ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The game was spirited, tempers flared, and Detroit’s defense and Dominik Hasek made the difference.
In a matchup of the league-best Red Wings and the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, Detroit posted a hard-fought 2-1 victory on Wednesday night.
“It was a game we sort of expected,” Hasek said. “They came at us very physical, but we said to ourselves that we have to be as physical as they are, especially in the first period.
“I think it is a big rivalry. They are the Stanley Cup champions and they play like champions. They beat us last year (in the playoffs) and most of the time we lose in this building, so this was a big game for us to show them we can win in this building also.”
The Red Wings’ goalie, who turns 43 on Jan. 29, made a sparkling variety of saves, smothering the puck in traffic at times, and gloving or swatting other shots until Chris Pronger spoiled his shutout on a power play with 11:55 remaining.
Detroit held the Ducks to 25 shots while getting off 33 at Jean-Sebastien Giguere on the way to its ninth road win in the last 10.
Both teams settled down after a rowdy first period, when each had seven penalties, including three on Anaheim’s Todd Bertuzzi against his former Detroit teammates. Bertuzzi and Todd Marchant were in the box when Rafalski scored at 11:52.
Earlier, Pronger and the Red Wings’ Dan Cleary drew major penalties for fighting, with both landing hard punches in what essentially wound up in a draw.
“I thought it was very much like a playoff game,” Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said. “There were two really competitive teams that wanted to win. We have had our battles in the past, and with last year’s playoffs. You could tell both teams were really competing out there.”
The Ducks’ Rob Niedermayer agreed.
“It was a big game and emotions run high,” he said. “We definitely have to control that (penalties) a lot better, especially early on. You can’t get behind the eight ball right away.
“We gave them a few power plays early and they got momentum from that.”
Rafalski scored his ninth goal on a 30-foot slap shot in the opening period with the Red Wings’ holding a two-man advantage. Filppula added his 15th to pad the lead in the second period.
Each team had one penalty in the third period.
The Ducks had upset Detroit in the playoffs last season on the way to their first championship.
Filppula’s goal at 7:52 of the second period was set up when he picked off a clearing pass by Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin, who broke his stick striking the puck. The puck went straight onto the Detroit center’s stick near the blue line. On a give-and-go with Tomas Kopecky, Filppula beat Giguere from close range.
Bertuzzi and D Mathieu Schneider were free agents who left Detroit for Anaheim during the offseason. … The Red Wings still have won just two of the past seven games in Anaheim. Hasek went into the contest with an 0-3-0 record and a 4.10 goals-against average in his last three starts in Anaheim. … Detroit again was without leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg, sidelined by a sore back.