It was everything that we expected from the Western Conference Finals. Two really good, talented teams, fighting one another the entire game, neither gaining much of an edge, the result in doubt until the absolute very last moment. Thankfully for the Detroit Red Wings, the result was in their favor, a 2-1 victory in a game where they did not play very well, took way too many penalties, and where Dominik Hasek, as he has all playoffs, came up huge.
The Wings took four penalties in the first period (leading to one Ducks 5-3 Power Play for a minute a half) but despite one of the key penalty killers (Kris Draper) taking two of those penalties, the Wings special teams were up for the challenge, preventing the Ducks Power Play from getting anything going. And not only that, despite fighting off penalties for most of the first period, the Wings ended the first 20 minutes up 1-0 thanks to a goal by Henrik Zetterberg, who banked the puck off a Ducks defensemen and past Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The second period was scoreless, but the Wings took three more penalties, including a small fight which broke out between Shawn Thornton and Danny Markov. Not too many fighting majors given out in the playoffs, but Thornton and Markov received five minutes each for fighting, forcing the Wings to juggle their already jumbled defensive pairings. Luckily for the Wings, no damage was done while Markov was sitting out.
In the third period, the Ducks quickly pulled even thanks to a goal by Chris Kunitz, who scored roughly a minute and a half into the period. Hasek never saw the shot, and the Ducks, who had been close to scoring many times throughout the game, had their goal, and the had the game tied. But then the Wings, on a Power Play (a nice change from all the penalty killing they had to do all game) scored on a Nick Lidstrom shot which just trickled though past Giguere. The goal was later changed and credited to Thomas Holmstrom, although viewing the goal, it certainly seems like it's Nick's. In either case, in baseball, a hit like Lidstrom's goal is a "seeing eye single". Not sure what the corresponding term in hockey is, but that puck had eyes for the back of the net and it didn't stop moving until it got there.
That was all the Wings and Hasek needed to win the game. The Ducks flurried at the end to try to get a puck past Hasek, and they came close quite a few times, including one shot with just a few seconds to go, but the Wings held on, and took a 1-0 series lead with a 2-1 victory.
If the Red Wings are going to continue to win games in this series, they are going to have to play better in the next few games. They took too many penalties (11) and as a result, they were outshot 32-19, which is very un-Red Wing like. But, as a Red Wings fan you have to be happy to not only win Game One, but win it in a game where the Wings did not play their best hockey and were playing one man down (at least) for half the game. The Ducks were exactaly the team I thought they were. Smart, tough, and physical, and with the potential to get quite a few scoring chances. Dominik Hasek was up to the task tonight, and hopefully, in Game Two on Sunday, we'll be saying the same as the Wings go up 2 games to 0.