SPORTS

NHL playoffs: 3 stories from Ducks, Blackhawks Game 1

05/17/2015 06:33 EDT | Updated 05/17/2016 05:59 EDT
Anaheim proved that home ice continues to be an advantage, while the Chicago Blackhawks' goaltender was a negative factor as the Ducks drew first blood in the Western Conference final. 

Very nice on home ice

Home ice is highly touted in any playoff series, but it may have particular significance this time around.

Both teams entered the Western Conference final with a perfect record (5-0) in their own barn and the Anaheim Ducks didn't let up on that tradition with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Ducks winger Kyle Palmieri scored his first of the playoffs and the game-winner early in the second. The 24-year-old helped improve Anaheim's playoff record to 5-0 when they strike first. 

Mind the net

A huge difference maker for the Anaheim Ducks was superior goaltending. Frederik Andersen steered aside 32 shots, earning a .970 save percentage. 

While Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford allowed three goals on 26 shots for a .885 save percentage.

Each team has plenty of fire power, so a big performance between the pipes was crucial. Andersen seemed to answer the call, making several spectacular saves.

The 25-year-old preserved Anaheim's lead early in the final frame after the Ducks took two separate penalties in the first six minutes of the period. 

Richards tries to rally

The afternoon wasn't a total wash for Chicago. Veteran centre Brad Richards got the Blackhawks within one with only 39.6 seconds remaining in the second period.

The unassisted beauty was the 35-year-old's second goal of the playoffs. Richards had a paltry 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games this season. 

With two goals and five points in the post season, his numbers are at least on the upswing. Are they worth the $2 million US pay cheque? You be the judge. 

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