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Archive for Sunday, May 11, 2003

Western Conference Finals: Ducks mighty tough

Anaheim wins Game 1 in double overtime, 1-0

May 11, 2003

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— Anaheim had Minnesota just where the Ducks wanted it -- in overtime with their unbeatable goalie.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere continued his postseason brilliance with 39 saves, and Petr Sykora scored 8:06 into the second extra session as the Mighty Ducks beat the Wild, 1-0, Saturday in the opener of the Western Conference finals.

"Once again, Jiggy kept us in the game," said Sykora, who also scored in the fifth overtime of the second-round series opener against Dallas.

Giguere stretched his playoff overtime shutout streak to 159 minutes, 5 seconds -- the second-longest run behind Patrick Roy's 162:56 in 1996-97.

"I wouldn't say I have tons of experience, but now I know I can do it," said Giguere, a postseason newcomer -- just like No. 6 seed Minnesota.

The seventh-seeded Mighty Ducks improved to 5-0 in overtime in these playoffs and 9-1 in one-goal games. Anaheim, which dropped No. 1 Dallas and No. 2 Detroit en route to the conference finals, is 5-1 on the road.

The Mighty Ducks, outshot 39-26, couldn't muster much of an attack for most of the afternoon. Sykora's goal was their first shot of the second overtime.

With so few scoring chances, it figured that the only goal of the game would come off a turnover.

"We made one mistake," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Anaheim's Petr Sykora (39) scores against Minnesota goalie Manny
Fernandez. The game-winning goal came during the second overtime
period of their Western Conference finals series opener Saturday in
St. Paul, Minn. The Mighty Ducks won, 1-0.

Anaheim's Petr Sykora (39) scores against Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez. The game-winning goal came during the second overtime period of their Western Conference finals series opener Saturday in St. Paul, Minn. The Mighty Ducks won, 1-0.

Filip Kuba lost the puck in the neutral zone and nobody backed him up. Anaheim's Mike Leclerc picked up the puck and started a 2-on-1 with Sykora against Lubomir Sekeras.

Sekeras committed to Leclerc along the boards, leaving Sykora wide open for the feed in the slot.

"I don't think he saw me," said Sykora, who beat Manny Fernandez high as Minnesota fell to 2-5 at home in the playoffs.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday night in St. Paul.

"They got the bounce today, and hopefully we'll get it next time," Wild left wing Antti Laaksonen said.

The Wild, who entered with the best power play in the postseason, went 0-for-5. The Ducks had only one chance with an extra skater.

"Your penalty kill is everything," Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said. "In reality, our special teams won us the game by giving us the opportunity to get there."

That and Giguere, of course, because Fernandez was almost as good for Minnesota.

Anaheim's Steve Thomas (32) flies over goalie Jean-Sebastien
Giguere after defending against a scoring attempt by Minnesota's
Andrew Brunette in the third period. The Ducks dumped the Wild, 1-0
in double overtime, Saturday in St. Paul, Minn.

Anaheim's Steve Thomas (32) flies over goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere after defending against a scoring attempt by Minnesota's Andrew Brunette in the third period. The Ducks dumped the Wild, 1-0 in double overtime, Saturday in St. Paul, Minn.

Dwayne Roloson was in goal for the last three games of the previous round against Vancouver -- all Wild wins. But Fernandez, 3-3 in the postseason, was chosen to begin this series.

"Manny has been good for us all year," left wing Pascal Dupuis said.

Though nobody admitted fatigue, the Wild had played Game 6 against the Canucks at home Wednesday and then the seventh game Thursday in Vancouver.

The Mighty Ducks and Wild split four games during the regular season, but Anaheim scored only four goals and Minnesota had six. Five of their 13 meetings have gone to overtime, and no power-play goals have ever been scored.

The Mighty Ducks, also in their first conference final series, play a low-risk, disciplined style that's similar to the one Lemaire has installed in Minnesota.

"It was like chess out there," Babcock said. "You can't get through the neutral zone with either team."

The 3-year-old Wild are on an extended inaugural postseason appearance after making NHL history with rallies from 3-1 series deficits in the first two rounds over Colorado and Vancouver.

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