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Anaheim 3, Dallas 2
Posted: Saturday April 26, 2003 08:37 PM
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
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DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim decided to send the Dallas Stars' fans home early this time.

Mike Leclerc scored 1:44 into overtime, giving the Mighty Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Stars and a stunning two games to none lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.

Owned by The Walt Disney Company, the Mighty Ducks wrote their own Cinderella story by sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the conference quarterfinals.

Following Petr Sykora's goal 48 seconds into the fifth overtime that gave Anaheim a win in Game One against the top-seeded Stars on Thursday, the hockey world began to take notice.

After taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first period in this one, the Ducks were surprised when Brenden Morrow evened the game 1.2 seconds before intermission.

The goal brought new life to the Stars, who took the lead on Mike Modano's tally 8 1/2 minutes into the second and maintained control until a bad bounce late in the third.

Rob Niedermayer's attempted pass with 69 seconds left deflected off the skate of Stu Barnes and past goaltender Marty Turco, knotting the contest and forcing another overtime.

"He tried to pass it across the crease," Barnes said. "I was trying to stop it, but the puck hit my skate and went in. Sometimes bounces go against you in the playoffs."

"It is very frustrating," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "Sometimes, as good as you want to be, the game doesn't let you be good. They get a goal off a skate in the last minute. That's the way it goes."

But the Ducks were quick to strike this time as Leclerc's wrister beat Turco and sent Anaheim home with a perfect 6-0 record in the postseason.

"It's great being on the road and coming out with a (two games to none) lead," Leclerc said. "We're not looking at any one guy or line to win the game for us. Everyone is confident that we can get goals from anywhere. In overtime, we know everyone's going to do their job and stick with the game plan."

"It was real important for us to come in here and try to win," Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said. "I don't know what it is about this group. We just hang around and hang around and we don't go away. You give yourself a chance."

Adam Oates had a goal and the key assist and Sykora set up all three tallies for the Ducks, who host Game Three on Monday.

"It's been quite a roll, especially getting by Detroit in the first round. And to have a 2-0 lead on Dallas is pretty exciting," Niedermayer said. "(But) it's only 2-0. They were in first place for a reason and you know they are going to come out hard on Monday. They're a veteran team and they will probably just take it in stride and be ready to play again."

"It doesn't mean anything," said Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, attempting to downplay the series lead. "The next game is the most important to win. You can't look at what's happened already."

Trailing just five players on the all-time regular-season assists list, Oates picked up undoubtedly the biggest one in Anaheim history in overtime.

Racing to get the puck in the right corner, the 40-year-old Oates managed to knock it away from Morrow and defenseman Darryl Sydor and get it to Leclerc.

With defenseman Philippe Boucher crossing in front of Turco, Leclerc unleashed a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle past the goalie high to the glove side for his first career playoff goal and Anaheim's sixth one-goal victory in the postseason.

"I had to focus on getting the puck first because it was pretty far away, so I reached for it," Leclerc said. "You kind of know where the net is and I wanted to go high, so I just threw it at the net and it went in."

"It wasn't a good shot for me, but it was a good shot for them," Turco said.

The hero of the Ducks' first-round sweep, Giguere made a blocker save on Barnes with just under 14 minutes to go in the first period after defenseman Sergei Zubov's shot from the blue line was blocked.

Anaheim had a chance to take the lead 2 1/2 minutes later when they had a two-man advantage for 31 seconds. They could not even set up in the Dallas zone before Morrow's high-sticking penalty expired, but captain Derian Hatcher joined fellow defenseman Richard Matvichuk in the box after an elbowing call 39 seconds later.

The Ducks made no mistake on this 5-on-3, as Oates played catch with Paul Kariya at the left point before walking to the doorstep and putting a shot off Turco's glove and in at 10:17 for his second goal of the playoffs.

"I think we feel good and we don't feel overconfident," Oates said. "We're playing good as a team, but we have a lot of respect for those guys. ... We don't want to be cocky, but we believe in ourselves and will stay focused on the next game."

Sykora nearly gave Anaheim a two-goal lead with eight minutes left in the first, but Turco slid across the crease to make the save.

While on the power play, the Stars appeared set to end the period with a 1-0 deficit. But when Giguere failed to control Zubov's wrister from above the right circle, Morrow poked it in from the right side at 19:58 to draw Dallas even.

Thinking the period was over, Giguere and many of his teammates retreated to the locker room. But referee Don Koharski put 1.2 seconds back on the clock, forcing Babcock to give Martin Gerber his first taste of the postseason.

Turco made a glove save on defenseman Niclas Havelid 28 seconds into the second to keep the game even before Modano gave the Stars their first lead in the series.

Taking a feed from Scott Young, Modano fired a one-timer from above the left circle through a screen and Giguere's pads at 8:39. It was the fifth goal of the series against Giguere, who allowed just six to Detroit in the quarterfinals.

Dallas kept the pressure on the Ducks, as Manny Malhotra skated in on a breakaway from the blue line with 9:16 to go. But Giguere stood his ground, making a left pad save on Malhotra's backhander.

With 4:20 remaining, Jason Arnott had a partial breakaway while shorthanded after intercepting defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh's pass at the Dallas blue line. But before Giguere was forced to make a save, Ozolinsh caught up to Arnott and tugged him from behind, causing him to lose control.

Anaheim showed little urgency to tie the game in the third, as the Stars had the better scoring chances early.

Rob DiMaio fired a one-timer form the high slot off a feed from Morrow that Giguere turned aside at 7:48 before making a right pad stop on Kirk Muller's stuff attempt from the left side with 6:46 to go.

"I thought we outchanced them and outplayead them in every aspect of the game, but we haven't been lucky," Modano said. "We outplayed them in the third period, but they get a puck off a skate and have a new life. We're not getting our share of luck right now."

Niedermayer nearly knotted the contest on a power play with 3 1/2 minutes left, but his shot from the right circle deflected off Turco's glove and over the net.

But the former first-round draft pick remained determined, backhanding the rebound of Sykora's shot off Barnes' skate at 18:51 for the equalizer.

"Petr was working hard in the corner," Niedermayer said. "When he threw it on the net, I got the rebound. I knew he was going to throw it at the net and I was able to get to it and catch a lucky break."

"When you're working hard and doing the little things, you create your own luck," said Giguere, who made 29 saves. "We'll take any bounce we can get, but it won't come without hard work."

 


 
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