ANAHEIM, Calif. - Marian Hossa's best scoring chance came a moment too late.
Teemu Selanne scored in the first period, Scott Niedermayer added a goal in the second, and Jonas Hiller made 18 of his 45 saves in the third for the Anaheim Ducks, who held on for a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. Anaheim grabbed a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.
After building the first multiple-goal lead of the series, Hiller and the Ducks survived a third-period barrage by the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Detroit nearly tied the game with 1:09 remaining when Hossa dived to knock in a loose puck in front of Hiller, but referee Brad Watson lost sight of the puck and whistled the play dead before the purported goal.
"I just saw it lying there on the goal line and I just dove and thought for sure it was in, but he blew the whistle right when I touched it," said Hossa, who led Detroit with 40 goals this season but has yet to score against Anaheim. "Sometimes it happens and it's frustrating, but the game is over and we just have to go through that and keep battling."
Like the referee, Hiller had lost sight of the puck.
"I didn't know where the puck went, I saw it on the replay after, it was definitely an early call. We were lucky there," said Hiller. "You're always going to get good calls or bad calls against you. But I always say to be lucky you have to fight for it and tonight we fought for 60 minutes. That's why we deserve to be lucky at the end."
The Red Wings got a goal from Henrik Zetterberg in the second period and had a pair of power plays in the final 9:35. The Ducks had the NHL's best regular-season record when leading after two periods and are 4-0 in those situations during the playoffs.
Game 4 will be in Anaheim on Thursday before the series returns to Detroit for Sunday's Game 5.
"We should still be playing obviously, right now," lamented Red Wings coach Mike Babcock about the quick whistle. "We've just got to make sure we stay determined and stay focused."
The Red Wings won the opener at home on a last-minute goal by Nicklas Lidstrom. Anaheim got even with a triple-overtime victory on Todd Marchant's goal.
Hiller had to make 59 saves in that overtime marathon. He has faced 108 shots in the last two contests.
"He's seen a lot of rubber, that's for sure," Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger said. "We don't want to play the way we did in the third with the lead, a couple penalties and they get momentum."
Anaheim is two wins from reaching the Western Conference finals for the third time in four seasons. The Ducks' recent run of success coincided with the 2006 arrival of Niedermayer and Selanne.
Both players nearly retired after Anaheim's 2007 Stanley Cup victory, but they are now again key post-season contributors.
Shortly after Hiller made a left-leg save on a partial breakaway by Mikael Samuelsson midway through the first, Selanne beat Chris Osgood on a breakaway to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Sneaking behind 47-year-old defenceman Chris Chelios, Selanne corralled a long-pass from Ryan Carter at the blue line. The 38-year-old Selanne swept the puck to his backhand and lofted a shot over Osgood's right shoulder.
The Ducks made it 2-0 on Niedermayer's power-play goal 8:16 into the middle period. With defenceman Brad Stuart penalized, Niedermayer arrived at a scrum in front of Osgood and swiped a fluttering shot over the goalie.
Then it got ugly.
Ducks defenceman James Wisniewski had to be taken off on a stretcher late in the second period shortly after being struck in the chest by a shot and then again in the head by Detroit forward Tomas Holmstrom's elbow.
After the whistle, Wisniewski remained on the ice on his hands and knees. After several minutes he was helped onto a stretcher and taken to a hospital with a lung contusion. He was to remain at the hospital overnight.
When play resumed, the Red Wings went on a power play. Zetterberg snapped in a loose puck in front of Hiller with 5:40 left in the second period.
"I thought we had a real good start to the hockey game, we played a pretty textbook style playoff game until the third period," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Notes: Detroit was again without defencemen Brian Rafalski (upper body) and Andreas Lilja (concussion) and C Kris Draper (upper body). ... The Ducks have faced the Red Wings in five of the seven years Anaheim has reached the playoffs. ... The Red Wings had been 2-0 on the road in the playoffs. ... Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf assisted on Niedermayer's goal, extending his point streak to seven games (2 goals, 12 assists).