By GREG BEACHAM/AP Sports Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula each had a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings finished off the Anaheim Ducks with a 3-2 victory in Game 7 on Sunday night.
Justin Abdelkader scored a short-handed goal and Jimmy Howard made 31 saves as the seventh-seeded Red Wings won three of the first-round series’ final four games to oust the Ducks, who had the NHL’s third-best record in the regular season.
Detroit faces top-seeded Chicago in the second round.
Emerson Etem and Francois Beauchemin scored and Jonas Hiller stopped 29 shots for the Ducks, who failed to win their first playoff series since 2009 despite home-ice advantage in Game 7.
After the clubs played four overtimes in the series’ first six games, the Red Wings largely dominated the anti-climactic clincher – and for the first time in the series, the Wings didn’t even need overtime to win.
Beauchemin got credit for a power-play goal with 3:17 to play when the puck banked off Jonathan Ericsson’s skate in front of Howard, but Anaheim never really got close to a tying goal late.
Detroit got a big finish from Zetterberg, their Stanley Cup-winning captain, who scored just 1:49 into Game 7 on a rebound in the slot – although he also took the penalty that led to Beauchemin’s goal.
Zetterberg scored three goals in Detroit’s past two victories after getting blanked in the first five, and he finished with seven points in the final three games after just one assist in the first four.
After winning a Game 7 on the road for just the third time in their franchise’s lengthy history, the Red Wings are in the second round for the sixth time in seven seasons. Detroit also beat Anaheim in a seven-game series in 2009.
The Motor City’s team even prevented the first Freeway Faceoff in NHL playoff history. Anaheim would have faced Los Angeles in the second round, the first postseason matchup for Southern California’s two teams.
The loss completed an ugly flop for Anaheim, which had the best winning percentage in franchise history while winning just its second Pacific Division title during the lockout-shortened season.
The Ducks’ defeat also is a sadly familiar playoff disappointment for coach Bruce Boudreau, who never got the Washington Capitals past the second round after four standout regular seasons with his previous club.
The loss also could be the final NHL game for Teemu Selanne, the 42-year-old franchise scoring leader who flirts with retirement every summer. Selanne didn’t score a goal in the series’ final six games – but Corey Perry, the Ducks’ former 50-goal scorer and NHL MVP, didn’t score a goal in the entire series despite 24 shots.
The clubs alternated victories until the final two games of the series, with the Ducks taking three straight one-game leads before Detroit caught them.
The Wings earned a third trip to California with an overtime win in Game 6 on Friday night – and they made it count with the Wings’ fourth win in six appearances at Honda Center this season.
Anaheim had another packed house on hand for just the second Game 7 in Honda Center’s history, but the Red Wings dominated from the start.
Detroit created choking traffic in front of Hiller immediately, and a rebound of Filppula’s long shot went straight into the slot for Zetterberg.
The Ducks appeared overmatched early, but Etem – the 20-year-old Long Beach native – had all the poise his teammates lacked. Etem attempted to dump the puck into the Detroit zone, but instead collected a deflection and skated in on net, firing a shot over a prone defenseman and past Howard for the third goal of his first NHL playoff series.
Detroit went right back ahead when Abdelkader stole Beauchemin’s pass near the blue line during the power play. Abdelkader easily skated away from Sheldon Souray and beat Hiller on a breakaway for his first goal since returning from a two-game suspension.
The Red Wings again took control in the second period, and Filppula put them up 3-1 when he jumped on a loose puck and fired a backhand through Beauchemin’s legs for his first goal of the postseason.
Zetterberg accidentally shot the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty with 3:46 to play, and Beauchemin got a fortunate bounce off Ericsson’s skate.
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