ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- After 10 years, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim took a quick path to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Anaheim won just one playoff series in its first nine years but needed only 14 games - matching the lowest total in the NHL since 1987 - to capture the Western Conference title.
After disposing of the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round and the top-seeded Dallas Stars in the second, the Ducks made quick work of the Wild. And they will have several days off before coming East to face the New Jersey Devils or Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup Finals.
"People in this organization, especially in the management positions, have worked so hard so many years. This is an incredible accomplishment," said center Steve Rucchin, who has spent his entire nine-year career with the Ducks. "Just the fact that we had to beat some great hockey teams to get to this moment really makes it that much sweeter."
"It's pretty special," first-year Anaheim coach Mike Babcock added. "Anytime you have success and your team has worked like our team has to be better, it's pretty special to be involved with a good group of guys. Special, that's all it is. Special."
Minnesota finally solved Giguere, ending his shutout streak at 217 minutes, 54 seconds. But Anaheim unveiled a new weapon by scoring more than one power-play goal for the first time in the postseason.
The first playoff appearance in the Wild's three-year history lasted much longer than anyone expected. They became the first team in NHL annals to overcome three games to one deficits twice in the same postseason but ran into Giguere and scored just once in the series.
"We were not supposed to win one game and we started to build confidence by winning that first game and believed maybe that we can win two and three and four, and we did that for two series," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "But as soon as we hit this team here, it seems like the breaks were on one side."
Giguere celebrated his 26th birthday in style, stopping all 17 shots over the final two periods.
"That was a great birthday present," said Giguere, who had an astounding .992 save percentage in the series. "Obviously, it's something I have been dreaming of since I'm a kid, just to be part of this. It was very exceptional (and) it's just beginning."
Giguere's spectacular goaltending has helped the Ducks go 10-1 in one-goal decisions.
"I would say in Games One and Two in Detroit, Giguere set the tone we have been riding ever since," Oates said.
Giguere's shutout ride ended 4:37 into the opening period when Andrew Brunette scored Minnesota's first goal of the series. On the power play, Cliff Ronning wristed a shot from the top of the slot that Brunette tipped past Giguere for his seventh playoff tally.
"We got a goal, that was a great feeling for us," Wild center Darby Hendrickson said. "It was early, especially against their goalie, who has been hot. It was a great feeling on the bench to get that goal, but to their credit, they came back and did what they've done all series."
The lead was short-lived, however, as it took Anaheim less than four minutes to tie it.
Minnesota defenseman Filip Kuba was penalized for roughing at 7:27 and the Ducks ended a three-game power-play drought 63 seconds later.
Mike Leclerc had the puck at the right side of the net and tried to make a centering feed. His pass caromed off the skate of Wild defenseman Andrei Zyuzin, popped in the air and hit the skate of defenseman Brad Bombardir before Oates wristed it past helpless goaltender Manny Fernandez.
"The first goal, we dumped it in and it went off (Bombardir's) skate and came right to me and I batted it in," Oates said.
Both teams had chances to break the tie in a 30-second span late in the period, but Anaheim's Samuel Pahlsson flicked a shot off the left goalpost and Bombardir did the same for Minnesota off a rebound.
Giguere kept the game deadlocked with a stick stop on Wes Walz, who cut to the net off the left side just over two minutes into the second period.
"He was fantastic," Babcock said. "There was a lot of traffic around the net tonight. It takes a lot of composure. To give up one goal in a series is unbelievable."
The Ducks went back on the power play after Wild defenseman Nick Schultz took a tripping penalty at 8:35. Oates struck again 56 seconds later off another favorable bounce. Stationed on the doorstep at the left of the net, he swept the puck by Fernandez after Rob Niedermayer's pass tipped off a Minnesota defender.
"I'm trying to distract the defensemen in front and it came right to me off the skate and I banged it home again," said Oates, who matched his production for the first 13 playoff games.
The rest was up to Giguere, who caught a break midway through the third period when rookie Pierre-Marc Bouchard stickhandled too much in front of the net and never got off a shot. The puck squirted in front to Jim Dowd, who was unable to get his stick on it.
"It seemed like the door was open against (Colorado). And it was a higher force against the Ducks," said Fernandez, who made 26 saves.