The Anaheim Ducks overpowered a Chicago Blackhawks defense that ranked No. 2 in the NHL with a 4-1 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals despite top scorers Corry Perry and Ryan Getzlaf failing to find the net.
It’s almost scary that Anaheim still fired off four goals on the likes of Blackhawks All-Star defenseman Duncan Keith and goalie Corey Crawford, and both Perry and Getzlaf could be ripe for an explosion in Tuesday night’s Game 2 at Honda Center.
Getzlaf, who’s tied with right wing and first-line mate Jakob Silfverberg with 13 points and leads the team with 11 assists during these playoffs, credited some sloppy handling and the Ducks giveaways to the first-line’s Game 1 slip up.
"We won a game, and we'll take the positives from that, but there were a lot of areas we could clean up," Getzlaf said to the Los Angeles Times. "We didn't handle the puck that well. As a line, that's up to us. I turned over the puck a couple times — uncharacteristic.
"Things have been addressed, we'll keep moving. We're playing a good hockey team we're expecting a good response from and we'll impose our own response from the lack of things we did in Game 1."
The Ducks committed 15 giveaways to Chicago’s 13 in Game 1, and one of Getlaf’s miscues resulted in Chicago’s only goal of the game, somewhat smudging a 32-save, .970 percentage night from keeper Frederik Anderson.
Getzlaf did get on the board in Game 1, feeding Silfverberg his fourth goal of the postseason late in the third period to pad the lead, so the production Anaheim is really looking for is from right wing and leading scorer Perry.
Held pointless for only the third game in the postseason and perhaps sore from a minor right knee injury, Perry registered only two shots on goal in Game 1 compared to the 4.6 attempts he averaged in the Ducks previous eight games. And yet Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson needed a hat trick to overtake the playoff points lead from Perry, who’s netted seven goals and eight assists.
Chicago too will look for more production from its first two lines. Veteran center Brad Richards managed to get on the board with an unassisted goal with 40 seconds left in the second period to keep the game close at 2-1 before the Ducks Nate Thompson and Silfverberg wrapped things up in the third.
It was the first loss since the first round for the Blackhawks, who were perhaps a bit rusty from a 10-day layover after making such quick work of the Minnesota Wild in the conference semis. Right wing Patrick Kane, whose tops on the squad with seven goals and 13 points, was held to one shot on goal and so was center Jonathan Toews.
But following Monday’s practice Toews told the Chicago Sun-Times that these playoff-tested Blackhawks know how to bounce back and not to take an opening game letdown too hard.
“That [frustration] is still there, but our understanding, especially the leadership group in this room, knows there’s really no reason to be thinking about what happened on the ice for 24 hours a day,” Toews said. “We did a good job [Sunday] of moving on, we had a good practice [Monday], and we’re confident and we feel good about the opportunity we have [Tuesday]. It definitely is a learned skill, learning how to handle that and move on to the next task.”
Chicago is also still working inexperienced defenseman David Rundblad into the rotation following Michal Rozsival’s fractured ankle against Minnesota. Rundblad made the first postseason appearance of his career against the talented Ducks, but should make adjustments with the first two defensive units.
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Online: A live stream is available at NBC Live Extra here
Betting Odds: Ducks -1.5 goals; o/v 5 goals
Prediction: Ducks over Blackhawks, 3-2