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Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2003

NHL Western Conference Finals: Mighty Ducks’ magic run continues

May 17, 2003

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— More magic in Anaheim: The Mighty Ducks are in the Stanley Cup finals.

Forty-year-old Adam Oates scored twice, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 24 shots on his 26th birthday Friday night as the seventh-seeded Ducks beat Minnesota, 2-1, for their second sweep of the playoffs.

The Wild's lone goal against Giguere and the Ducks are the fewest by a team in four games of a series. Boston had just two in a 1935 series, and Montreal had two in a 1952 series.

Minnesota came into the Western Conference finals as the playoffs' top scoring team, with 42 goals, but Giguere stifled the Wild's offense. Their only goal ended Giguere's playoff shutout streak at 217 minutes, 54 seconds -- the longest since 1951 -- and fifth-longest in playoff history.

"This is the way I always imagined it," Giguere said. "This is fun."

Anaheim will face the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between New Jersey and Ottawa. The Devils lead the series 2-1.

The Ducks are the second Anaheim long shot to make it to a championship series in less than a year -- the underdog Angels went all the way last fall, winning their first World Series title. Both the Ducks and Angels are owned by the Walt Disney Co., although the baseball team is being sold to Arizona businessman Arturo Moreno, and the hockey team is up for sale.

Giguere, whose goaltending has been the hallmark of Anaheim's 12-2 run through the playoffs, lost his bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive postseason shutout on Minnesota's fourth shot of the game, but was unbeatable the rest of the way.

Minnesota's Andrew Brunette (15) is greeted by teammates after his
first-period goal against Anaheim. The Wild's first -- and only --
goal of the Western Conference finals gave them a short-lived lead,
but the Mighty Ducks won Game 4, 2-1, Friday in Anaheim, Calif., to
advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

Minnesota's Andrew Brunette (15) is greeted by teammates after his first-period goal against Anaheim. The Wild's first -- and only -- goal of the Western Conference finals gave them a short-lived lead, but the Mighty Ducks won Game 4, 2-1, Friday in Anaheim, Calif., to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

Oates, signed by Anaheim as a free agent in July, broke a 1-1 tie when he scored on a power play at 8:30 of the second period. As he was for his first goal of the game, Oates was in perfect position, this time left of the crease.

Mike Leclerc shot from the right circle, Rob Niedermayer got a stick on it, and the puck came through to Oates, who had only to poke it into the net since goaltender Manny Fernandez was guarding the right post.

Leclerc also assisted on Oates' first goal, on a power play at 8:30 of the opening period.

The multigoal playoff game was the sixth of Oates' career, and first since April 28, 1998, when he was with Washington.

Andrew Brunette scored 4:37 in to end Giguere's scoreless streak -- the longest since Montreal's Gerry McNeil went 218:42 in 1951. Giguere had not allowed a goal since the third period of Anaheim's clinching victory over Dallas in the second round.

Brunette deflected Cliff Ronning's shot from the point on a power play for the Wild's first goal against Giguere in 102 shots against him to give Minnesota a short-lived 1-0 lead.

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