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RED WINGS 2, DUCKS 1

Red Wings win ugly

Holmstrom goal topples Ducks

Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom helps Dominik Hasek sweep aside an Anaheim shot in the third period. (PAUL SANCYA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

DETROIT -- Beauty is in the eye of the winner.

The Red Wings beat the Anaheim Ducks in the opener of the best-of-seven Western Conference finals with two ugly power-play goals that looked awfully good to them.

Tomas Holmstrom scored with 4:54 left in regulation after a shot hit him while he was standing in front of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere before it dropped to the ice and trickled into the net, giving Detroit a 2-1 victory last night.

"We had traffic," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It was a good goal."

Nicklas Lidstrom, whose shot was deflected by Holmstrom, was a little more discerning.

"It was kind of a lucky break for us," said Lidstrom, who had two assists.

Detroit was fortunate to score the game's first goal, too.

Henrik Zetterberg's shot -- which appeared to be a pass -- deflected off Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin and got past Giguere at 3:44 of the first period.

"I believe in this game you create the bounces that go for you," Giguere said.

Both of Detroit's goals were last touched by Beauchemin, who swiped at the winner in the crease after it hit Holmstrom.

"That's a freak thing that happens and it happened to us," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We'll move on."

Game 2 is tomorrow night in Detroit before the series shifts to Anaheim.

Chris Kunitz made it 1-1 early in the third period with a shot from the slot that beat Dominik Hasek on the glove side. It was the first goal Hasek gave up in nearly 157 minutes.

With two stellar goaltenders and four Norris Trophy winners -- combining to be honored as the NHL's top defenseman nine times -- it was a low-scoring game, as expected.

Shortly after Holmstrom's goal, Anaheim had a chance to tie the game again on a power play and pulled Giguere to make it a two-man advantage, but couldn't score.

Hasek made 31 saves and Giguere stopped 17 shots.

"Dom was outstanding," Babcock said. "Dom shut the door."

Anaheim is in the conference finals for the third time in four postseasons, more than any other team since 2003. Detroit, meanwhile, is among the final four in the league for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2002.

The Red Wings and Ducks are matched up for the fourth time in the playoffs, and Detroit hopes to continue a trend.

The previous three meetings have ended in sweeps, with the Red Wings winning in 1997 and 1999, and Anaheim advancing past them in 2003 with Babcock behind its bench.

Anaheim allowed just three goals on 56 power plays during the first two rounds, leading to an NHL-high 94.6 percent success rate on penalty killing.

While the Red Wings took advantage of their only power play in the opening period, Anaheim went 0 for 3 and took only one shot with a two-man advantage for 1 1/2 minutes shortly after Detroit scored.

"Those things come back to bite you," Carlyle said.

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