Ducks to open Game 1 with Andersen in net

Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda...

Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Honda Center earlier this month. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:18 PM ET

ANAHEIM - Frederik Andersen gets the first crack to be the go-to goalie for the Anaheim Ducks in the latest instalment of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Ducks had been tight-lipped about the identity of their starting puck-stopper, but Andersen was the first netminder to leave the ice after Wednesday's morning skate and head coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed the 24-year-old rookie from Denmark will be between the pipes for the series-opener against the Dallas Stars at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET, TSN).

Andersen posted a 20-5 record this season with a 2.29 goals-against average and .923 save percentage, stealing the starting job from Jonas Hiller.

"(Andersen) played some big games for us and obviously rose to the occasion, so we have no goalie questions at all in our locker-room," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "We know he can play and play at a high level."

The Ducks (54-20-8) won the Pacific Division crown and finished atop the Western Conference standings with 116 points, but their crease controversy is one reason some pundits are picking the wildcard Stars (40-31-11) to pull off an upset.

Hiller rattled off 14 straight victories from Dec. 6 to Jan. 12, but the 32-year-old has struggled down the stretch, posting a 6-9-2 record since then.

John Gibson, 20, only added more confusion to the Ducks' puck-stopping puzzle after a late-season callup, going a perfect 3-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage.

"We've had three good goalies," Boudreau said. "I just think right now, Andersen has played the best, gives us the best chance to win, so he'll be the one starting (Wednesday). It doesn't necessarily mean he'll be starting Game 2. He's starting Game 1."

For his part, Andersen insisted he wasn't feeling any increased pressure in the hours before his NHL playoff debut.

"It's just a game," Andersen said with a shrug. "You want to do what you can to win. That's the bottom line and that's how I think about it."

No surprise, 30-year-old Kari Lehtonen gets the Game 1 start for Dallas. The Stars' backup is Tim Thomas, 40, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy after backstopping the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup celebration in 2011.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

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