ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- More magic in Anaheim: The Mighty Ducks
are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time.
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 the Minnesota Wild 2-1 for their second
sweep of the playoffs.
"It's a great birthday present, something I've been dreaming of
since I was a kid,'' said Giguere, who stopped 122 of 123 Minnesota
shots in the Western Conference finals. "Just to be part of this
is very exceptional.
"Now it's just beginning. Every game is going to be exciting
and it's going to be fun.''
The Wild's lone goal against Giguere and the Ducks is the fewest
ever in a best-of-seven series. Boston had just two in a 1935
series, and Montreal had two in a 1952 series.
"To give up one goal in a series is unbelievable,'' Anaheim
rookie coach Mike Babcock said.
Minnesota came into the Western Conference finals as the
playoffs' top scoring team, with 42 goals, but Giguere stifled the
Their only goal ended Giguere's playoff shutout streak at 217
minutes, 54 seconds -- the longest since 1951 -- and fifth-longest in
"I knew at some point, there was going to be a goal some way,
somehow. It had become kind of a distraction, with people asking
about it. I think the team should get the credit. I feel the team
did an unbelievable job playing in front of me.
"They made my job so much easier.''
"Hopefully, we're going to win,'' Giguere said. "But it
doesn't matter. We'll all be better players -- a better team -- after
The Ducks are the second Anaheim long shot to make it to a
championship series in some seven months -- 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,
but was unbeatable the rest of the way.
Oates, signed by Anaheim as a free agent last 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 parked near the goal just left of the crease.
Oates, who has never played on a Stanley Cup champion, was
pleased to be back in the finals. He was with Washington when the
Capitals lost to Detroit in 1998.
"It's obviously a great feeling,'' Oates said. "At the
beginning of the year, I would not have thought we would be here.''
Oates said Giguere has paved the way for the Ducks, starting
with his 63 saves in Anaheim's 2-1, three-overtime win in the
playoff opener against the Red Wings.
"In Game 1 with Detroit, Jigger set the tone and we've been
riding him ever since,'' Oates said. "His play has been fantastic
and we wouldn't be where we are without him.''
On his go-ahead goal, Mike Leclerc shot from the right circle,
Rob Niedermayer got a stick on it, and the puck came through to
Oates. He was able to poke it into the net since Manny Fernandez was guarding the right post.
Leclerc also assisted on Oates' first goal -- 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.
Oates scored four minutes later to tie it. Leclerc's shot
bounced off Minnesota defenseman Brad Bombardir and dropped in the slot, where Oates wristed it past Fernandez.
Fernandez faced 28 shots.
Anaheim, in only its third postseason since coming into the
league in 1993, swept the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings
in the first round this year, then knocked off top-seeded Dallas
4-2 in the second. It was the first time in league history that one
team had knocked off the top two conference seeds in the same year.
Ten of the Ducks' 12 playoff wins have been by one goal, and one
of their losses was a 2-1 defeat by Dallas.
Montreal's George Hainsworth had the longest playoff
shutout streak, going 270:08 in 1930. Dave Kerr of the New York
Rangers is second with a streak of 248:35 in 1937, and Detroit's
Norm Smith is third (248:32 in 1936). ... Babcock is the first
rookie coach to reach the Cup finals since Florida's Doug MacLean
in 1996. Montreal's Jean Perron was the last rookie coach to win
the Cup, in 1986.