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The Detroit Red Wings were just about perfect in their playoff opener. The Calgary Flames, meanwhile, can at least be pleased with the play of their goaltender.
Detroit looks for a repeat performance Sunday when the teams face off in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings played the role of top seed to perfection in a 4-1 victory Thursday, dominating the Flames throughout with a 46-20 shots advantage and carrying a shutout late into the third period.
First-period goals by Valtteri Filppula and captain Nicklas Lidstrom was all the support Dominik Hasek needed as he had a relatively easy night with 19 saves. Goals by Pavel Datsyuk and Mathieu Schneider extended Detroit's lead to 4-0 in the second period.
Winning Game 1 was particularly important because the Red Wings have lost in the opening round of the playoffs as a No. 1 seed in two of the last three seasons. Another first-round exit by a team that finished tied for the most points in the NHL this season would be nothing short of embarrassing.
Schneider agreed it was a perfect game for the Red Wings.
"That can be scary because you want to keep up the momentum," he said. "We've been in this situation before, so we know Game 2 is huge. It's as big for us as it is for them because we need to win to keep home-ice advantage that we worked all year to get."
If not for the play of Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, who stopped 42 shots, the final score would have been much worse. Kiprusoff is 19-17 with a stellar 1.98 goals-against average and five shutouts in 38 career playoff appearances.
"Certainly the goaltending is important for us, but if you look at the history of teams that win, it starts in net," Flames coach Jim Playfair said on the team's official Web site. "That's our goals-against, our team defense, our focus on the puck, so it's not just Miikka Kiprusoff, it's our team defense."
The Flames know they won't have a chance in this series unless they can make the 42-year-old Hasek work harder than he did in Game 1.
"He's going to be ready game after game and that's the thing with him, he's a competitor," center Craig Conroy said. "We have to get traffic, we have to get a lot of shots on net, drive the net, get rebounds and just make it as uncomfortable as we can for him."
Alex Tanguay's goal with 5:05 remaining spoiled Hasek's bid for his 13th career playoff shutout.
Datsyuk's goal ended his 26-game scoreless streak in the playoffs. It was his first postseason goal since Game 7 of the 2002 conference finals against Colorado.
"For me, it's huge," he acknowledged.
The Red Wings also had left wing Henrik Zetterberg in the lineup Thursday for the first time since Feb. 24. The team leader with 33 goals in the regular season, Zetterberg missed the final 19 games because of an inflamed disk in his back. He played 19:51 in Game 1, second-most among Detroit forwards.
"It was a big test, and I felt great all game," Zetterberg said.
One notable forward that was absent from Game 1 for Detroit was Todd Bertuzzi, who sat out with a concussion and a neck injury. He skated with the team in practice Friday, but won't play Sunday.
Winning Game 2 will be very important for the Red Wings because the next two games of this series are in Calgary, where the Flames led the NHL with 30 home wins in the regular season.
The Flames hope to have defenseman Robyn Regehr available for this game after he missed the series opener with a knee injury.
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