For the ninth postseason in a row, there will be a new Stanley Cup champion.
scored the tying goal and assisted on the game-winner by Stu Barnes
during a 52-second span early in the third period as the Dallas Stars
rallied for a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks
at the American Airlines Center on Sunday night, ousting the defending champs in six games.
made 17 saves to lead the Stars to their first victory in a playoff series since they beat Edmonton in the 2003 Western Conference quarterfinals.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead, Loui Eriksson
beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere
on a breakaway with 2:18 remaining and the capacity crowd could taste victory. Mike Modano
put on the finishing touches, hitting an empty net with 3.3 seconds left, and the celebration was in full throttle moments later.
“It definitely has been a long time coming, to say the least,” Turco said. “It does feel good, but we’ve been talking about not one series (but) winning as many as we can, so we’re looking forward to the next one.”
Dallas will face either San Jose or Colorado in the second round – if Calgary were to defeat San Jose in Game 7 on Tuesday night, the Stars would have home ice against the Avalanche in the West semifinals.
“We’ll see how it turns out,” said Modano, whose goal was the 55th of his playoff career.
“We’re excited to move on, we’ll get some rest. We didn’t want to have to travel again to the West Coast tomorrow, so we tried to lay it out there for the last 20. Things worked out and we’re looking forward to a couple days’ (rest).”
Meanwhile, Anaheim became the latest defending champ to hit an early pothole on the road to a title defense. Detroit was the last team to repeat, winning successive Cups in 1997 and 1998, but since Colorado made it to the Western Conference final in 2002, no defending champ has survived past the first round.
After getting off to a slow start in a season that began way back in September with two games in London, the Ducks surged up the West standings after the returns of defenseman Scott Niedermayer and winger Teemu Selanne, both of whom contemplated retirement after the team won the Stanley Cup.
In fact, Anaheim had the League’s best record following Selanne’s comeback in early February, but the Ducks put themselves in an early hole by dropping the first two games of the series at Honda Center and couldn’t climb out of it.
“You can say what you want, we just didn’t score enough goals to win the series,” said Corey Perry, who staked Anaheim to a 1-0 lead through two periods. “We needed to win this game … now that it’s over we have to regroup and try again next year, I guess.”
Dallas held a 16-9 advantage in shots entering the third and got the break it needed 17 seconds in when Anaheim’s Ryan Carter was whistled for holding. On the ensuing power play Modano ripped a shot that missed the net, but the puck caromed out to Robidas, who put it between Giguere’s pads at 1:18 to draw the Stars even. It also ended an 0-for-18 drought with the man advantage.
Barnes wasted little time in putting them ahead to stay with his 30th career postseason goal. This time it was a Robidas feed across the crease that Barnes put into the left side of the net at 2:10 to give the Stars a 2-1 edge.
“I think we felt like we were playing a pretty good game,” Barnes said. “We had some good chances at their end and couldn’t put it in. We just tried to stay with it and keep going and eventually we got a couple to go. Robie made a great play on the first goal on the power play and of course on the second goal, too … guys played well all over the ice.”
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said his team courted trouble in the second, when the Ducks managed only three shots on goal, and the game began to slip away early in the third when Robidas and Barnes scored.
“We didn’t execute to the level that was required,” Carlyle said. “In the second period, definitely they were able to grab the momentum. Then we draw a penalty the first shift in the third, and they get a goal off a bounce off the back boards, comes right out on their defenseman’s stick, goes five hole. The next shift they score to make it 2-1, and it just seemed like inevitably what could go wrong went wrong, in a very short period of time.”
Perry continued to spark Anaheim since returning from a six-week layoff after suffering a thigh laceration in a game against Colorado. He registered an assist during a Game 4 loss that left the Ducks in a 3-1 hole, then opened the scoring in their 5-2 win Friday that staved off elimination.
After a scoreless first period Sunday, it was Perry who got the Ducks started early in the second. Skating down the right side, he wound up from the right circle and beat Turco at 2:11 with a wrist shot to his stick side. It was Perry’s eighth career playoff goal, but as the period wore on the momentum gradually shifted back to the Stars.
“They were coming at us in waves at the end of the second and we got caught with a penalty at the start of the third period,” Perry said. “They capitalized and they just kept coming at us. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, they never quit.”
It was a recurring theme for the Stars this season. After a slow start, a front-office shake-up saw former star Brett Hull become co-general manager. Top defenseman Sergei Zubov was injured midway through the season and still hasn’t returned, while further injuries to the blue line led to a number of youngsters being asked to play big minutes during crunch time. The Stars survived another rough stretch in March where they won just twice in 11 games to enter the postseason with the right mentality.
“We just kept pushing and never gave up ... that’s the bottom line,” Robidas said. “That’s how we are. We played well as a team and we’ve got to give credit to everybody on the team that worked really hard in that series.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.