ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Paul Kariya would not let the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim go quietly.
Kariya bounced back from a vicious hit by Scott Stevens, scored his first goal of the series and set up two others as the Ducks forced a decisive seventh game in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 5-2 triumph over the New Jersey Devils.
Held to one assist in the first five games of his first trip to the Finals, Kariya led Anaheim to its seventh straight home win with his third career three-point playoff game.
"He was courageous," Ducks coach Mike Babcock said. "Anytime that happens, it's a big message to your team about leadership."
Kariya's most dramatic point was his goal with 2:45 left in the second period. It came 15 minutes after New Jersey climbed within 3-1 and 11 minutes after he was knocked senseless by Stevens.
After getting a pass from Petr Sykora in the neutral zone, Kariya sped down the left side and unleashed a blast from the top of the faceoff circle that found the top right corner of the net.
"I was just going down the wing and that's where I like to put it in that situation," Kariya said.
The sellout crowd at the Arrowhead Pond, which gave Kariya two standing ovations after he returned from the locker room, erupted again.
"I didn't expect anything, but it was a nice lift," he said.
Kariya appeared unlikely to return after needing help to reach the locker room following Stevens' hit. The Ducks' captain had taken a stride and a half after dishing the puck before Stevens caught him with his left shoulder at the New Jersey blue line.
"I sensed he was there, but I thought I had a little bit more time than that," Kariya said. "That's Scott's game. He's very patient with his hits and he times them right. But I thought it was a little bit late."
The NHL did not. The league described the check as legal in a statement from NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell.
"Stevens struck Kariya with his shoulder," Campbell said. "In reviewing the hit frame by frame, it was clear that the hit occurred less than one second after Kariya made the pass."
Still, few on the Anaheim bench expected him to come back at all, let alone so quickly.
"First of all, I was really concerned about his well-being," center Steve Rucchin said. "You see a guy laying on the ice, like I said, I was concerned about Paul and whether he was going to be OK. ... I still felt confident about our game at the time, but it was definitely a lift when he came back."
It was the latest in a long line of postseason checks by Stevens, who was booed the rest of the game every time he touched the puck.
"People talk about (those hits) all the time. It should be harder for those things to happen," Stevens said. "It's pretty well-known, so, yeah, but you can't let your guard down. Hey, it's a physical game out there."
Rucchin scored twice in a three-goal first period for the Ducks, who also got their first two power-play tallies of the series. They get another crack at their first road win of the series Monday night.
"I think the great thing about it is you go in there and get spanked three times, we can't play worse than we've played there," Babcock said. "We've got to be due for a good one. I think that's positive."
This is the fourth time in Stanley Cup Finals history the home team has won the first six games. Only twice has the home team taken all seven.
It will be the second Game Seven in three years, both of which have involved the Devils. In 2001, they dropped Game Six at home and Game Seven on the road against the Colorado Avalanche.
New Jersey also squandered a three games to one lead in this year's Eastern Conference finals before winning Game Seven at Ottawa.
"It seems we've never done anything easy all year," Devils right wing Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We have to find a way to regroup and bring our game Monday."
"With this much experience and a lot of guys being in this situation before, Game Seven, I'm absolutely sure we're going to see a great home game (on Monday)," defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky added.
Martin Brodeur surrendered five goals on 22 shots and was replaced by Corey Schwab with 11:23 to go in the third period and New Jersey trailing, 5-1. It was the second time in this year's playoffs the Devils gave up as many as five goals.
"We got outplayed like we outplayed them in Game Five," Brodeur said. "It was a mirror image of Game Five in New Jersey but swapping teams. They beat us to everything."
Coming off Thursday's 6-3 loss, Anaheim scored first for the fourth straight game. Just 4:26 into the opening period, Rucchin flipped a shot from just below the left point that hit Stevens' right shin and deflected past Brodeur's glove.
"They got the lucky break there off the bat. It seems the home team has gotten those breaks," former Duck Jeff Friesen said. "They built off it."
With 6:18 left in the first, Rob Niedermayer outbattled defenseman Colin White behind the net and kicked the puck to teammate Mike Leclerc. Leclerc centered to the right faceoff dot, where Rucchin put a wrist shot past Brodeur.
It was his third goal in two games since he was named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy.
"The last couple of years have been tough, definitely. This more than makes up for it," Rucchin said. "You can't dream of anything more - a chance to win the Stanley Cup in Game Seven. It doesn't get much better than that."
Just 2:17 later, Kariya took a shot from the left circle that hit Steve Thomas at the right goalpost. The former Devil, who got the overtime winner in Game Four, stuffed the loose puck into the net for Anaheim's first power-play goal of the series.
It was the second time in the playoffs the Ducks scored three goals in a period and the Devils allowed three.
"I think we were ready, we were almost too ready," Langenbrunner said. "We're a patient team that lets the play come to us, and we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off for the first part of the game."
The Devils came to life briefly in the second period when Jay Pandolfo threaded a shot from the slot past Giguere for his sixth postseason tally.
New Jersey had one chance to climb within a goal, but Giguere stopped Patrik Elias' deflection with 16:21 left before Kariya ended his six-game scoring drought.
"Everyone knows that they have a lot of physical players," said Sykora, a former Devil. "We've got to take the hits and make the plays. Hey, this is the Stanley Cup Finals."
Sykora made one more play in the third period, scoring on the power play to make it 5-1 before Grant Marshall answered for New Jersey with the extra man.