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 in the opener of the Western
"Once again, Jiggy kept us in the game," said Sykora, who also
scored in the fifth overtime of the second-round series opener
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
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 also 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.
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
"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.
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
Though nobody admitted fatigue, the Wild were most certainly
tired having played Game 6 against the Canucks at home on Wednesday
and then the seventh game in Vancouver on Thursday.
It was Anaheim, however, complaining of a lack of energy --
especially early on.
The Mighty Ducks needed only 10 games to dispose of the
conference's top two finishers after a strong second half of the
regular season. They'd been waiting since Monday to find out where
they'd be traveling.
"I don't think we had the kind of zip we normally have,"
The first 80 minutes of the game, in fact, were lacking zip.
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. That mixture yielded three
periods of pretty dull hockey.
"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.
They thrive on letting opponents make mistakes, but they were
the more aggressive team for most of the game -- outshooting Anaheim
29-17 through regulation, including 10-4 in the third period.
Minnesota scored 16 times against Vancouver's unstable goalie
Dan Cloutier in the final three games of the second round, but the
Wild couldn't crack Giguere.
Sergei Zholtok was denied four times in the first period, and
one of his shots hit the crossbar during a flurry midway through
"He made some big saves all game, not just at the start,"
Zholtok said. "There's nothing we can do now. We just need to find
a way to beat him."
Giguere made maybe his best save of the postseason on a Wild
power play in the second period.
Crowding the corner to guard against a quick shot from Andrew
Brunette, Giguere whirled to his right after Brunette's pass to a
wide-open Marian Gaborik in the slot. Gaborik's wrist shot slid
past two Ducks defenders, but Giguere lunged to stop the puck with
his stick inches from the goal line.
"A little bit lucky by me," Giguere said. "Sometimes you need
one of those."
Sykora had a team-high eight shots. ... The Wild lost for
the first time in nine playoff games when holding their opponent to
two goals or less.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Xcel Energy Center Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Referees: Don Koharski, Brad Watson Linesmen: Brad Lazarowich, Jean Morin