Seeking a sweep
Ducks hope to polish off Wings, avoid trip back to DetroitPosted: Tuesday April 15, 2003 8:59 PM
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Mighty surprising, those Ducks.
After being swept by Detroit in their only two earlier trips to the NHL playoffs, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are one victory away from sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings.
With goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere swatting, smothering and otherwise stopping the Red Wings' shots with his stick, glove and feet in the first three games, the Ducks go into Wednesday night's Game 4 with a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference series.
A sweep by Anaheim, which went four-and-out against Detroit in the 1997 and 1999 playoffs -- the Ducks did beat Phoenix in seven games in the opening round in '97 -- would be a major upset. The only team to win the Stanley Cup and be swept in the first round the following year was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who lost four straight to eventual Cup winner Detroit in 1952.
Giguere, who has stopped 133 of 137 shots, is the major reason Anaheim has won the first three games. But the Ducks also have played tenacious defense and capitalized on their scoring chances against Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph.
"It's a little bit surprising where we are," Anaheim's Steve Thomas said. "But it's because of the way we've played."
The Red Wings are more than a little surprised.
"I don't think we ever thought we'd be behind 3-0," Detroit coach Dave Lewis said.
While the Ducks remain cautious, with coach Mike Babcock saying winning a fourth game is always the biggest challenge, the Red Wings still seem to have at least a measure of confidence.
Last year in the first round, they came back from a 2-0 deficit to win four in a row against Vancouver and went on to their third Stanley Cup title in six years.
Detroit's Sergei Fedorov, who said after the second game that the Red Wings were desperate and dangerous, claimed the mood is different heading into Game 4 at Anaheim.
"I think we're very, very angry. We're angry that we haven't scored on all the opportunities we've had. We'll take care of that," Fedorov said. "On offense, we've generated enough chances to score four or five goals a game. We will find a way to win."
The underdog Ducks so far are following in the footsteps of the baseball team that plays just up the street. The Anaheim Angels stunned the New York Yankees in the opening round of the playoffs last season and went on to win their first World Series in the club's 42-year history.
"We looked at their winning for the first time, and franchise history, and that gave everybody here hope," the Ducks' Paul Kariya said. "I think that got us off on the right foot and convinced us we could do it."
The Ducks and the Angels are owned by the Walt Disney Co., which has both up for sale.
If the Red Wings win Game 4 in Anaheim, the series would shift to their ice for a fifth game Saturday.
"The bright side is, we just have to win one game and we can take them back to Detroit," Fedorov said. "We will have a Game 7 mentality going into Wednesday night's game."
The Ducks are well aware of that.
"One thing about playing this team, there's no way we're going to be overly confident," Anaheim's Adam Oates said. "We have so much respect for them."