The Anaheim Ducks began their run to the 2014 Stanley Cup by holding off the Dallas Stars 4 - 3 at Honda Center in Game 1 of their best-of-seven playoff series.
Coming off a record-setting year in wins and points, the Ducks captured the Western Conference’s top spot and the right to face surprise entrant Dallas in the first round.
Despite the regular season accolades, much of the talk around the Ducks’ locker room prior to Wednesday centered around erasing the bitter memories of last season’s playoff exit to the lower-seeded Detroit Red Wings.
Nothing like a 3 - 0 lead by the end of the first period to trigger a little playoff amnesia.
Opening the scoring for the Ducks a minute and 53 seconds into the contest, forward Kyle Palmieri beat Stars’ goaltender Kari Lehtonen five hole after corralling a lead pass perfectly saucered over two defenders from center Nick Bonino.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf provided the second goal of the night tipping in a Matt Beleskey shot midway through the first. While Mathieu Perreault rounded out the period’s scoring with a power play goal from down low with just thirty seconds remaining in the frame.
Beleskey would make it four for the Ducks midway through the second period, after deflecting defenseman Francios Beauchemin’s slapshot from the point past Lehtonen on the power play.
But the Stars would not go quietly.
Back-to-back goals by Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour halved the Ducks’ lead just before the end of the second period. Tyler Seguin’s goal with just over six minutes remaining in the third capped off three unanswered Stars’ goals and cut the lead to just one.
The Stars would get no closer though, as rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 32 of 35 shots in his playoff debut.
Up 1 - 0 in the series, the Ducks had a scary moment with just 16 seconds remaining in the game when Getzlaf took a Seguin slapshot to the face and immediately skated to the locker room.
The Ducks’ captain led the team in points during the regular season and the extent of the injury was initially unclear.
Game 2 of the series is Friday at Honda Center.