Ducks center Andrew Cogliano (7) takes a hit from Red Wings defenseman Niklas… (Harry How / Getty Images )
You go through 458 regular-season NHL games before appearing in the playoffs for the first time and the reward is spending quality time against Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
It's little wonder that speedy Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano endured what he called a sleepless night before Game 1 on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings. Fortunately, for Cogliano, his centerman and quasi-mentor happens to be Saku Koivu.
Koivu served as a calming force, and that third line, which includes Daniel Winnik, kept the Red Wings' top threats off the scoresheet as Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Justin Abdelkader combined for eight shots on goal. Datsyuk, who had eight points in the final three regular-season games, had one shot in Game 1, which the Ducks won, 3-1, at Honda Center.
"They like playing with each other and they did a great job," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Granted, they probably angered those two guys and they'll play a lot better next game because I'm sure the other guys are gonna ramp it up a little bit."
Sitting back and waiting was simply not an option in Tuesday's playoff opener. Cogliano said he felt as though every battle against that top line took everything out of him because of the strength of Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
"They're so dangerous through the neutral zone, if you give them any time they're going to make plays," Cogliano said. "They're so good with the puck. And he does things, especially Datsyuk, with the puck, that you never really see before.
"I feel like even when I have the puck on my stick and I'm skating out of the zone, he's always around or behind me or waiting to pick the puck off me. So the only defense you can play against them is playing on the offense and keeping them in their end for some of the shift and hopefully create scoring chances yourself."
Said Zetterberg: "I think we need to sustain more pressure in their end. Yesterday was too much one and done."
Cogliano's long wait to appear in the playoffs was a byproduct of his four seasons in Edmonton. The Oilers traded him to the Ducks in the summer of 2011 and the Ducks missed the playoffs last season.
"I think the one guy that keeps me in check, and I know keeps [Winnik] in check is Saku," said Cogliano, who had 13 goals and 23 points this season. "I respect him more than anyone pretty much in the league and it's great to play with him. To have him in my ear telling me little things, giving me insights, is something special."
Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock indicated he was not planning on making changes for Game 2 and then addressed a point about the rookies on his team getting a feel for the tightness of playoff hockey. Three of his defensemen played in their first Stanley Cup playoff game Tuesday.
"We talked about it before the series started," Babcock said. "I don't think you've got to get hit by a car to understand that it hurts."
The game was a battle of special teams, and the Ducks scored two power-play goals to Detroit's one. Teemu Selanne scored the game-winning goal on the power play early in the third period.
It was a vintage one-timer from the left-wing circle. Selanne was asked how many he had scored from that spot.
"A couple hundred, probably," he said. "I don't know. That has been my favorite spot. Lately, I have been more in the middle in the power play. It doesn't really matter. We know that the power play and the penalty killing is going to be a huge part of our success at any level."
It was the 42nd playoff goal for the 42-year-old.
There is often a tap dance with Selanne about his future. On Wednesday, the banter with reporters was more about plans for the Olympics next year in Sochi, Russia, not his NHL future.
"I said [no] after Salt Lake City too. So I don't believe myself anymore," said Selanne, smiling.