DETROIT (AP) -Nick Lidstrom was at his best when he was needed most by the Detroit Red Wings.
Lidstrom scored his second goal of the game with 49.1 seconds left and had an assist, leading Detroit to a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series.
"He usually comes up with the big goals at the right time or the great pass or whatever," teammate Johan Franzen said. "In some way, he always helps us to win."
Lidstrom, who became the first European-born captain to win a Stanley Cup last year, has played a big part in Detroit winning four titles the previous 11 seasons.
"Special player," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
Lidstrom is a finalist for the Norris Trophy. If he is honored as the NHL's best defenseman for the seventh time, he'll tie Doug Harvey's total and pull within one of Bobby Orr's record collection.
Despite turning 39 earlier this week, Lidstrom simply hasn't lost a step.
He started the winning play behind his net, skated up the ice, shot and scored off the rebound.
"I'll take it any way I can," Lidstrom said.
Jonas Hiller stopped 34 shots for the Ducks, who got goals from Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne.
"We gave one away," Perry said.
The Ducks will have a chance to get one back in Game 2 on Sunday in Detroit.
In the series opener, Lidstrom scored a go-ahead goal for the defending Stanley Cup champions in the second period.
He assisted on Franzen's goal that tied the game in the first following Detroit's only deficit of the playoffs, drawing praise from his coach.
"He's a talented player," Detroit's Mike Babcock said. "We're lucky to have him."
Chris Osgood had 22 saves to improve to 5-0 in this year's playoffs.
The last two Stanley Cup champions were evenly matched, but Detroit got the best of Anaheim in the final minute of a hotly contested game.
"It's playoff hockey and there's a lot of intensity out there," Lidstrom said. "Both teams want to win real hard and that really comes out in a game like this."
Since the NHL expanded in 1967, the defending champion and the previous Cup winner are meeting in the playoffs for the third time. The others were in 1991 when the Edmonton Oilers played the Calgary Flames, and in 1971 when the Montreal Canadiens faced the Boston Bruins.
Anaheim eliminated the Red Wings two years ago in the Western Conference finals en route to the title, and the fourth postseason matchup in a decade between the teams was intense.
The fifth got bloody early.
Ducks forward Mike Brown was ejected in the first period, appearing to land an elbow to the head of defenseless Jiri Hudler.
Brown, who insisted he hit Hudler with a shoulder and his visor cut him, hopes to play in Game 2.
"I don't know if it's necessary to get that suspension," Brown said. "It was a clean hit. ... I wasn't meaning to do any harm. I was just playing physical."
Carlyle complained about Franzen being allowed to score on a play that ended with him toppling Hiller.
"Amazing, isn't it," he said. "You're supposed to be protecting goalies. The video doesn't lie."
Marc Savard scored twice and Tim Thomas stopped 26 shots to lead the host Bruins past Carolina in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Michael Ryder scored for the fourth game in a row, and David Krejci also scored for the top-seeded Bruins, who swept the Hurricanes during the regular season.
Cam Ward made 20 saves, and Jussi Jokinen scored the lone goal for Carolina.
Thomas won his 11th consecutive game, including four straight in the first round against rival Montreal that was Boston's first playoff series victory since beating the Hurricanes in 1999.