EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Rust, not rest.
Playing for the first time in 11 days, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim looked lethargic in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals as the New Jersey Devils got two goals from Jeff Friesen and 16 saves from Martin Brodeur in a 3-0 blanking.
Many wondered how the Ducks would respond coming off the longest pre-Stanley Cup Finals layoff in 37 years. The answer was clear as Anaheim managed just eight shots through two periods while yielding a handful of odd-man rushes.
"In all fairness to them, you could see they had a little bit of rust on the blades," Devils coach Pat Burns said. "As the game got on, they got a little better."
"A layoff is an excuse," Ducks coach Mike Babcock countered. "We had an opportunity tonight. They were better than us. They were hungrier, and you have to give them credit."
As he did in the opening game of the Western Conference finals, Jean-Sebastien Giguere kept the Ducks even in the first period.
But Friesen put New Jersey in front 1:45 into the second and Grant Marshall scored 5:34 into the third to put Anaheim in just its second two-goal hole of the postseason.
Brodeur had little to do to protect the lead, making four saves in each of the first two periods and eight in the third for his fifth playoff shutout, one short of the record set last year by Dominik Hasek. It was his 18th career postseason shutout, four behind Patrick Roy's mark.
Ironically, Roy is expected to announce his retirement Wednesday.
"The ideal situation is you get a lot of shots from outside early in the game and you get yourself in the groove," Brodeur said. "(But) you can't really pick and choose. My team is going to play in front of me."
Brodeur had some help. Just 4 1/2 minutes into the game, former Devil Petr Sykora fired a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle off the right goalpost.
"I hit the post and it didn't go in," Sykora said. "And they scored the first goal. When they score the first goal, they are so tough to play against, because they're great defensively."
"It's a game of mistakes, and you need a little luck in the playoffs," said New Jersey left wing Patrik Elias, Sykora's former linemate. "At that time, it was on our side. But we had a lot of chances that we could have put in, so it goes either way."
Sykora's shot turned out to be the Ducks' best scoring chance. New Jersey had several, finally cashing in on its 10th shot on Giguere, who has carried the Ducks to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
From the left corner, Sergei Brylin - taking the spot of the injured Joe Nieuwendyk on the Devils' second line - moved the puck to Friesen at the left faceoff dot. The hero of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals, Friesen wristed a shot over Giguere's right pad and inside the left goalpost for his sixth playoff goal and fourth game-winner.
"I just got the puck and I kind of took a look and saw where (Giguere) was," Friesen said. "I hit my shot. ... I've played with Giguere, so I know some of his tendencies. It just went in. It felt good to get that."
"Friesen did a good job being patient and holding onto the puck for a second," Giguere said. "I went down a little too early, made another move and picked the corner. It was a pretty nice goal."
New Jersey had several odd-man chances, including a breakaway by Jay Pandolfo, before Marshall padded the lead.
Giguere made a chest save on Elias' point-blank shot from the slot, but the rebound came back to Elias, who drew defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski to the right circle before sliding the puck into the slot.
Unchecked, Marshall shoved it into a half-empty net for his fifth goal in the last 12 games. He ended a 65-game drought in Game Two of the conference semifinals.
"On the first shot, I thought I had the rebound on me," Giguere said. "I didn't see it bounce back to the other guy's stick. And they had a 2-on-0 in front. There was not much I could do after that."
"I kind of laughed because I looked up at the replay and there was a flashback of Mike Foligno with his hops," said Marshall, who celebrated by leaping into the air. "I guess I was excited about it. If you don't get excited about this, there is something wrong."
There's been nothing wrong with Friesen, who added an empty-netter with 22 seconds and has five goals and two assists in his last eight games.
"He's played pretty well all year long," Burns said. "I don't think he turned on a button or pushed a switch that made him score goals. He just has opportunities, and when he has the opportunities, he puts them away."
Game Two is Thursday at New Jersey, where the Devils improved to 9-1 in the postseason. They are trying to win their third Stanley Cup in nine years.
"We got real lucky that they had 11 days off. Four or five would've been the right number, six (days), tops," New Jersey center John Madden said. "I know how I felt in that first game back against Tampa Bay after seven days off - real sluggish. But the game went on, they got their legs under them and got the rust shaken off and they started getting some chances and buzzing."
That came as little satisfaction to the Ducks, who fell to 6-2 on the road. They had won Games One and Two on the road in each of their first three playoff series.
"It's our first loss in Game One," defenseman Keith Carney said. "We have to bounce back, we have to put this behind us. It's done and over with. We learned from it and realize it's a tough challenge. But we didn't give ourselves a chance tonight. We didn't play very well, we need to be a lot better."