ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Henrik Zetterberg took a few well-deserved deep breaths before he packed his bags in the Detroit Red Wings' dressing room.
After seven games, four overtimes, three trips to California, countless momentum swings and a few frantic minutes at the close of Game 7, the Red Wings finally finished off Anaheim.
Their captain scored an early goal and made a late mistake, but the Wings survived to earn a second-round series much closer to home.
Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula each had a goal and an assist, and the Red Wings eliminated the Ducks with a 3-2 victory 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.
For the first time in the series, the Red Wings didn't even need overtime to win. They largely dominated the anti-climactic clincher — until Zetterberg's delay-of-game penalty allowed Anaheim to get within one goal.
"We did a great job getting off to a good start, and then we protected it there at the end," said Zetterberg, who scored three goals in the series' final two games after getting blanked in the first five. "A lot of us have been in tough situations like this before, so we knew how to play this type of game."
Detroit faces top-seeded Chicago in the second round, and the Red Wings already are relishing the prospect of shorter flights during their final postseason in the Western Conference.
Zetterberg scored just 1:49 in, and the Stanley Cup-winning captain finished with seven points in the series' final three games after just one assist in the first four.
But Zetterberg also shot the puck over the glass accidentally in the waning minutes, and Francois Beauchemin put a power-play goal off Jonathan Ericsson's skate in front of Howard with 3:17 to play.
"It was not the best move by me, so it was tough to sit in the box," Zetterberg said. "But we still had a one-goal lead, and we've been in these situations so many times before."
Anaheim never really got close to tying it, and the Red Wings wrapped up a Game 7 victory on the road for just the third time in the franchise's lengthy history. Detroit is in the second round for the sixth time in seven seasons, but the Wings will have to recharge after surviving this memorable matchup.
"It had to go down as one of the best series in the last short while, at least," Abdelkader said. "It was fun to play in, back-and-forth, tightly checked. Both teams played well and played hard."
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.
Emerson Etem scored and Jonas Hiller stopped 29 shots for the Ducks, who couldn't capitalize on home ice and failed in their second chance to close out their first playoff series victory since 2009. Another slow start doomed Anaheim, which fell behind 2-1 late in the first period on Abdelkader's goal.
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