|Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere holds up the Stanley Cup after Anaheim clinched the Final with a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks, a team that began its existence in 1993 as an NHL expansion team named after a Disney movie, came of age Wednesday night.
The Ducks, no longer the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, are, ironically, now at their mightiest, winning the 2007 Stanley Cup in five games with a convincing 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
”It's the highest accomplishment,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “Obviously I played for a number of years. I've been in the game professionally for 30 years and this is my first Stanley Cup. And I'm going to savor this for a few days anyways. We'll allow more than the 10-minute rule that we have.”
For Conn Smythe Trophy winner Scott Niedermayer, the championship was his fourth, but perhaps the most special because of his teammates.
”We have a lot of guys in the room that were pretty hungry,” Niedermayer said. “When you play like Teemu (Selanne) has for 15 or 16 years, when you play 10, 12, 14 years and you haven't had a chance to do this, that puts something in your stomach, I think, that you can count on at this time of year. And I think our guys showed that.”
The Cup triumph capped off a tremendous season. Anaheim won the Pacific Division during the regular season and then the Western Conference title in the postseason, and now, the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup.
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The celebration was especially sweet for another veteran Duck, Teemu Selanne, who had appeared in 1,041 regular-season games without winning a Cup, got his first last night.
”Obviously, we had to wait a long time for something unbelievable,” an emotional Selanne said. “And it really makes it even more special. To get the win in our own home building … I'm so proud of my teammates. We've been like brothers. And we have had one dream together, and that's why it's so special.”
Like Selanne, Anaheim mainstays J.S. Giguere, Chris Pronger, Sean O’Donnell and Todd Marchant all earned their first Cups too, as did the Ducks’ legion of young players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Dustin Perry and Andy McDonald.
The Ducks won their first Cup in their 14th season, joining the League in 1993-94. Only four franchises in the expansion era (since 1968) have taken fewer seasons to win their first championship, the Edmonton Oilers (fifth season), Philadelphia Flyers (seventh), New York Islanders (eighth) and Tampa Bay Lightning (12th).
The Ducks are the first California-based champion and the first West Coast winner since NHL clubs exclusively began competing for the Stanley Cup in 1927. The previous Cup-winning club from the West Coast was the Victoria Cougars of the defunct Western Canada Hockey League, who defeated the Montreal Canadiens in 1925.
Anaheim led 2-0 after the first period, 4-2 after 40 minutes and the salted the game away with two third-period goals.
Leading 2-0 after one period, the Ducks scored twice more in the bizarre second period to offset two goals by Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson to keep the Ducks in the lead, 4-2, after 40 minutes. Two more third-period goals socked away the win, one that set off a tumultuous celebration inside the Honda Center.
The Senators didn’t seem to have anything going for them during long stretches of the game, but Alfredsson’s strong play helped make things uneasy for the Ducks, especially in the second period, when Alfredsson’s first goal seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The Senators’ Mike Fisher and Peter Schaefer worked the puck in the left-wing corner and their strong work saw a Schaefer pass to Alfredsson in the slot for a high shot that beat Giguere high on the glove side to make it 2-1 at 11:27.
But disaster struck the Senators moments later when a muffed breakout play resulted in the puck going into the Ottawa net without a duck touching it. Defenseman Chris Phillips picked up the puck behind his net, where goalie Ray Emery also was standing. As Phillips began to come out from behind the net, he lost the handle on the puck and it got caught in Emery’s skates and the unsuspecting goalie ended up putting the puck into his own net at 15:44. Travis Moen, the closest Duck to the miscue, was credited with the goal.
When Christoph Schubert was called for an elbow at 16:46, the Senators appeared finished, but Alfredsson scored a shorthanded goal, taking the puck away from Ryan Getzlaf and racing in to score a shorthanded goal high to Giguere’s glove side to make it 3-2 at 17:38.
”It seems like whatever line you put him on, he's the guy that gets points for you,” Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said of his captain. “Tonight, was the (Mike) Fisher line, it was a line because Alfie was there. He’s had lots of raps over time, I think, and that happens when you don't win championships and you don't go far in the playoffs. But this guy, to me, has been the ultimate captain for our hockey team. He's a hard-working guy. Driving force, and I think tonight he showed it again. Shorthanded, guys draped over him, gets to the net, and makes it a 3-2 game at that moment.
”He gave us a chance to get back into the game after a dreadful start, and we couldn't support him well enough.”
True enough. After Alfredsson’s goal, the Senators weren’t able to stand prosperity and surrendered a power-play goal at 18:28 to restore the two-goal edge, 4-2. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin did the scoring honors, taking a pass from McDonald at the left point that changed direction when it hit defenseman Anton Volchenkov and past Emery for a killing goal.
”I think positionally they played better than we did,” Murray admitted. “Defense in particular, that's their agenda, really, to be a real strong defensive team. But I still maintain a few guys, anyway, we had some guys that didn't play to what they were playing in the playoffs. Certainly in the latter part of the year. And I think that's most disappointing. We and they have to live with through the summer. I say that with all due respect. Anaheim is big and strong and real solid defensively and made it difficult to play maybe to the level that we had seen earlier on.
”As far as the team is concerned, as far as the way we played it, I thought I saw a lot of character on our team,” Murray said. A lot of good people, we got here because of that as much as anything. I don't know if in every case we were the most talented group, but we played hard and very disciplined throughout the Eastern Playoffs. I'd like to make excuses for them, but there's none I can really make at the moment, other than congratulate Anaheim because they did what they had to do to win it.”
|The Ducks set a positive tone early in Game 5 by scoring two goals in the first period.
At 7:23, the Senators had a great chance to cut into the lead when Antoine Vermette was awarded a shorthanded penalty shot. But the frustration that lingered around the Senators all night was apparent here when the puck slid off Vermette’s stick as he tried to move to the backhand.
Corey Perry finished off the scoring off another Ottawa turnover at 17:00 to start the celebration.
The sellout crowd then spent the better part of the remainder of the game chanting “We want the Cup!” and counting down to the greatest moment in franchise history.
Two goals in the first period certainly established the positive trend the Ducks were looking for in this one.
Penalties by the Senators helped set that trend, with defenseman Tom Preissing going off for interference just 1:40 into the game, a penalty Ottawa killed off.
They weren’t as fortunate after Volchenkov was whistled for hooking at 3:25. This time the penalty proved costly as Andy McDonald scored his fifth goal of the series to make it 1-0.
The Ducks displayed great puck control leading up to the goal, whipping the puck around the Ottawa zone while closing in on the net. McDonald, who said he was trying to pass across, ending up scoring when the hard pass deflected off Phillips and past Emery.
The Senators, out-shot 5-3 in the first, had two terrific scoring chances in the period.
With 11:14 left, Jason Spezza was denied by a spectacular move by Beauchemin, who managed to deflect Spezza’s shot into an empty net out of danger.
Then, after Samuel Pahlsson was called for elbowing at 10:14, Chris Neil got the puck to the left of Giguere, but his shot moved tantalizingly across the goalmouth with no Senator able to poke the puck home.
The Ducks made it 2-0 at 17:41, second after a penalty to Perry expired. Perry actually helped trigger the scoring sequence, coming out of the box to check Phillips at the Anaheim blue line, and sending the Ducks on the prowl.
This time Rob Niedermayer got up a head of steam, shed the checking by Mike Comrie and backhanded the puck off Emery and into the net for his fifth goal of the playoffs and a strong 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
”I think our group made the decision at training camp,” Carlyle said of when his team showed the moxie to become champs. “The way our team came together right out the gate of training camp, we got together and we were a team early. And I think we had some sort of crazy record going. We were unbeaten and we hadn't lost in like 14 or something and it just seemed that that was a stepping stone. And then we ran into a little bit of a hurdle at Christmas, but we found ways to regroup.
”And we made adjustments as we went forward, but the players are the ones that put it on the line night in night out and they deserve all the credit.
”I think I'm the most fortunate coach in the world to have that type of locker room and no-maintenance players,” Carlyle said. “You ask any coach, if you don't have to focus on one or two individuals you can constantly focus on the group. It makes your job that much easier. And these people have delivered.”