ANAHEIM, Calif. — As a four-goal lead suddenly dwindled to just one Wednesday night in Anaheim, it was a reminder that nothing is safe in the postseason.
The Ducks came away with a 4-3 win over the Stars in the opening game of their first round playoff series Wednesday night at the Honda Center. But they didn’t come away completely unscathed.
"We didn’t put the fear of God in them tonight," said Ducks’ head coach Bruce Boudreau. "I’m sure they probably gained some confidence. We didn’t play that good, I didn’t think."
The game looked to be all but put away in the second period when Francois Beauchemin’s blast deflected into the net to give the Ducks a 4-0 lead. For 30 minutes, they could do no wrong.
They killed off the first four minors and scored twice on the power play, breaking a streak of four games without a power play goal and for the first time scoring more than one with a man-advantage since Jan. 15.
Rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen, all of 24 years old and making his postseason debut, was making his coach look like a genius for choosing the young gun over the established veteran in Jonas Hiller.
But a 5-on-3 advantage changed the tone of the game.
While the Ducks didn’t completely unravel, that four-goal lead was quickly trimmed to two when Dallas’ captain Jamie Benn knocked in a rebound. Right as the second penalty expired, Colton Sceviour slapped a laser right through the legs of Andersen.
Andersen quickly regained his composure to deny Benn from point-blank range right before the period ended. A shot that Dallas felt could have been the undoing of the Ducks.
"It gave us some life obviously," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff. "The Benn opportunity, even at the end of the period, if we would have had that one to make it 4-3 would have been a really important goal for us. But we got one in the third."
With just six minutes left, one of the NHL’s top scorers in Tyler Seguin finally struck when he deflected a puck past Andersen to make the score 4-3.
"We let up a little bit in the third after our fourth goal," Andersen said. "Even though you’re up 4-0 you have to play 60 minutes."
"When a team scores two goals late they get the momentum and the belief that they can win," Boudreau said. "The other team is playing more of a defensive role trying to hang on. Then you usually end up with a score like it was tonight, even though, I thought, halfway through the game we were in control of the situation."
Andersen finished with 32 saves in his first postseason start and there was nothing to indicate any distrust in the goalie from Boudreau or the locker room.
Matt Beleskey and Ryan Getzlaf each had a goal and an assist and also each left the game due to injury.
After recording his first multi-point playoff game of his career, Beleskey left in the third with a lower-body injury. Boudreau offered no clarification after the game except to say that he has recently been dealing with a nagging lower-body injury. Getzlaf took a puck to the face in the waning seconds of the game and received stitches. He will be further evaluated but itâs believed to only be a cut.
The Ducks continue to enjoy home ice for Friday’s Game 2. But after the way game one ended, it could be the Stars with the momentum.
"It’s never going to be a runaway in the playoffs," Palmieri said. "No team is going to fold it up and pack it in. You’re always ready for their push."