His goal surrendered to Ruslan Fedotenko in the first period was a bad one off a rebound. But the Detroit keeper was solid after that, making 25 saves in the final two periods en route to a 3-1 Game 1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. His save on Evgeni Malkin(notes) on a breakaway with the game tied was pivotal.
A heads-up play for the Red Wings rookie resulted in an enormous insurance goal in the third period. Taking a feed from Ville Leino(notes), Abdelkader fired the puck at Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) and then reached up to snag his own rebound, getting his stick on the puck to knock it into the corner for a 3-1 lead. Not shabby for 5:10 in ice time.
The game-winning goal was the product of hard work by the Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg(notes) winning a faceoff, Brian Rafalski(notes) sending a hard shot near the goal and Franzen being alert enough to tip a puck from the boards off of Fleury and into the net. It was The Mule's 11th goal of the playoffs.
Major Penalty: Lively boards at the Joe? Sure. But the Penguins didn't help themselves with some shoddy defensive play on the three goals, and Fleury looking less like a goalie than a pinball machine bumper doesn't inspire much confidence.
Minor Penalty: Gary Bettman's "State of the NHL" press conference to kick off the Finals is always filled with more than a little sunshine, but claiming that the Southern Ontario market is "not something that we've studied" or that the Phoenix Coyotes were "literally 20 minutes away from being fixed" before Jerry Moyes filled Chapter 11 were among several doozies this year.
Conn Smythe Watch: (The Top 10) 1. Johan Franzen, Red Wings; 2. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins; 3. Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings; 4. Sidney Crosby(notes), Penguins; 5. Chris Osgood, Red Wings; 6. Nicklas Lidstrom(notes), Red Wings; 7. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins; 8. Marian Hossa(notes), Red Wings; 9. Sergei Gonchar(notes), Penguins; 10. Jordan Staal(notes), Penguins.