ANAHEIM, Calif. – Frederik Andersen lunged forward and stretched out his stick, taking a desperate chance to stop Patrick Kane. The Chicago star's shot somehow glanced off Andersen's lumber and flew over a painfully open net.
Andersen kept the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference finals opener while his teammates got rolling. When they did, the Ducks streaked out to yet another early series lead.
Hampus Lindholm, Nate Thompson and Jakob Silfverberg each had a goal and an assist, and the Ducks beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 on Sunday.
Andersen made 32 saves and Kyle Palmieri also scored as the Ducks opened their first conference finals in eight years by improving to 9-1 in these Stanley Cup playoffs. Although the Blackhawks clearly are a major step up in competition, the Ducks' confidence grew with a strong all-around performance backed by brilliance from their imposing Danish goalie.
"I think everyone in the locker room knows we can beat this team," said Andersen, who's in his second NHL season. "It's a good feeling that we showed it in Game 1. They're going to come harder. We'll have to play better in Game 2."
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Anaheim.
Andersen had to be stellar under a heavy barrage of high-quality shots from the Blackhawks, who had won five consecutive postseason games heading into their third straight conference finals. Kane scored seven goals in the first two rounds, but he could only shake his head on the bench after Andersen's phenomenal stick save in the first period.
"He's a battler, and you saw that on numerous saves he had tonight where it seemed like we had a good chance to score and he gets a leg or a stick on it," Kane said. "We knew that was the scouting report on him. Just got to bear down a little bit more on those opportunities."
Brad Richards scored late in the second period and Corey Crawford stopped 23 shots for Chicago, which hadn't lost since April 23.
Both teams' offensive stars were shut down in the franchises' first postseason meeting, but the Ducks' supporting cast took over the scoring, capped by Silfverberg's empty-net goal with 1:18 left.
Andersen also made a handful of spectacular saves in the third when Chicago pressed after Thompson made it 3-1 with 7:55 to play in a sequence created by speedy Andrew Cogliano.
"The way we were all able to contribute and help out definitely bodes well for our team," Thompson said. "We've always had good depth. It's one of the reasons we've been successful here."