(Reuters) - The Anaheim Ducks won the opening game of the Western Conference final with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in California on Sunday thanks to outstanding play by Danish goaltender Frederik Andersen.
The Ducks, seeking their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since winning the trophy in 2007, opened a 2-0 lead on goals from defenseman Hampus Lindholm and forward Kyle Palmieri and Andersen, who had 33 saves for the game, allowed only one goal.
That came on Chicago center Brad Richards’ unassisted tally late in the second period.
“He was very good,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau of Andersen. “He had game confidence. He looked composed today. I didn’t see him look rattled at all. He handled the puck well.”
Andersen said he was delighted his team had started off the series with a win on home ice.
”It is always great to win that first one,“ he said. ”We don’t want to let them take the momentum and we want to defend our home ice.
“I think everyone in the locker room knows we can beat this team and it is good feeling that we could show that in Game One. But they are going to come harder now.”
The best of seven series continues with Game Two at Anaheim on Tuesday.
The Ducks extended their lead to 3-1 on Nate Thompson’s wrist shot in the third and Jakob Silfverberg wrapped up the win with an empty netter late in the period.
“When we’re playing catch-up, it’s not one of our strengths,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. “At the same time it’s a good hockey team. We didn’t get to the net as much as we’d like. Put a lot of pucks into the net, but we (have) got to get more bodies, more traffic.”
Chicago outshot Anaheim 16-7 in the first but with Andersen keeping the Blackhawks from scoring, Anaheim were able to get ahead thanks to Lindholm’s goal. The Swede one-timed a Silfverberg pass from the left point at 8:48.
The Blackhawks dominated the early stages of the second period before Palmieri doubled the Anaheim advantage with his first goal of the playoffs.
Richards restored the Blackhawks’ hopes in the final minute of the period, going around Francois Beauchemin and beating Andersen.
After Palmieri whiffed on a rebound attempt, Thompson pounced on the puck to score his second goal of the postseason .
Silfverberg then collected an empty net goal with 1:18 left, scoring after his initial shot hit the post.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Gene Cherry