EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) - Home, sweet home.
The New Jersey Devils captured their third championship in nine years with a 3-0 blanking of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim as Martin Brodeur broke a record with his seventh playoff shutout and Jeff Friesen scored two more goals.
Faced with the prospect of squandering a three games to two lead in the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in three years, the Devils relied on Brodeur, who bounced back from a sub-par effort in Game Six and recorded his third shutout of the series.
Six times, Brodeur has surrendered as many as five goals in a playoff game. He is 6-0 with three shutouts in the following contest.
"Nothing bothers him," Devils captain Scott Stevens said. "If we have a bad game or things don't go well for him, you know that he'll be back in the next game. It's not something to worry about as a team. People were saying in the last two games that he has to better and I knew Marty was going to be better tonight."
Friesen again victimized his former team with his fourth and fifth goals of the series. But the game-winner was scored by rookie Michael Rupp, who also had a pair of assists in just his fourth career playoff game.
"I had a funny feeling," said Rupp, who filled in again for veteran center Joe Nieuwendyk. "I, by no means, knew I was going to get a goal, but I felt really good today when I woke up. ... Honestly, I was probably the most calm today as I've been in an NHL game this year."
For the third time in NHL history, the home team won all seven games in the Stanley Cup Finals. New Jersey set a record with its 12th home win of the playoffs, eclipsing the 1988 Edmonton Oilers' mark.
"Both teams just feel really comfortable in their own rink," Ducks center Steve Rucchin said. "We came up against a team that was just as superior on their home ice. Why no one could crack the other, I don't know."
The Devils also became the first team since the 1974 Philadelphia Flyers to capture the Stanley Cup with a losing road record in the playoffs. That's a stark contrast to their first two championships, when they tied the record with 10 road victories.
New Jersey joins the Detroit Red Wings as the only teams since the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty ended in 1990 to win more than two Stanley Cups.
"Winning here is a tradition - three Stanley Cup in nine years. Not too many other teams have that," Devils defenseman Tommy Albelin said. "The Detroit Red Wings are there, the (Colorado) Avalanche are there, but after that, there's not a whole lot of other teams."
Each championship came under a different coach as first-year coach Pat Burns won his first Stanley Cup in his second try. His last trip to the Finals came as a rookie in 1989 with the Montreal Canadiens.
"There was a lot made of you haven't won it since '89, and that's all we've been hearing," Burns said. "I think the biggest thing is you're afraid to disappoint people. Not really for myself, but I was afraid to disappoint people - disappoint your family, disappoint the fans."
It was a disheartening end to a magical season for the Ducks, who vanquished the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round and topped the top-seeded Dallas Stars in the Western Conference semifinals.
But Anaheim was unable to win a game in New Jersey, where it has lost 10 straight since 1996. The Ducks were outscored, 15-3, in the four games at the Continental Airlines Arena.
"Mixed emotions," 40-year-old Ducks center Adam Oates said. "You're obviously a little bit bitter because we were so close. But I think the guys should walk out with their heads high because we got to the seventh game and you had to do a lot to get here. The team accomplished a lot."
A small consolation was goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who became just the fifth member of the losing team to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
"I would give that one up to get the other one," Giguere said, referring to the Stanley Cup. "It would have been much better to get the other one. But I have to give credit to my teammates. They worked really hard in front of me."
Rucchin returned the compliment.
"Boy, did he ever deserve that," he said. "Without him, we wouldn't be here."
Once again, the second period belonged to the Devils. They outscored opponents, 22-12, in the middle period in the playoffs, including a 9-4 edge in this series.
New Jersey broke through at 2:22 on its 10th shot of the game. Rupp pushed the puck back to the right point, but Colin White could not handle it and it slid along the blue line to fellow defenseman Scott Niedermayer.
Stationed in the slot, Rupp tipped Niedermayer's wrist shot between the pads of Giguere for his first goal since February 12.
"I wanted to contribute," Rupp said. "It doesn't have to be on the scoresheet, that's just a bonus. ... I just wanted to contribute any way that I possibly could. And it just worked out great."
The Devils squandered a power play after Rob Niedermayer was penalized for interference, and Anaheim created its best flurry of the game. Brodeur denied former Devil Steve Thomas cutting off the right wing with just under 11 minutes left and stopped Rucchin from the top of the crease two minutes later.
"Probably the best in the game right now, since Patrick (Roy) retired," Giguere said of Brodeur, who became the third goalie to record a shutout in Game Seven of the Finals. "I think he's probably the one taking over right now at being the best."
With 7:42 to go in the period, Niedermayer wristed a one-timer from the blue line that Giguere stopped. The rebound bounced out to the slot and off Rupp before Friesen scored from the edge of the right circle.
It was the ninth playoff goal and fourth in this series for the former Duck.
Brodeur kicked out a blast from the edge of the left circle by Paul Kariya with 5:49 remaining and New Jersey nearly made it 3-0 two minutes later when Pascal Rheaume's backhander went off Giguere's right pad and spun along the goal line before it was cleared by an Anaheim defenseman.
Friesen capped the scoring and sent the Continental Airlines Arena into delirium with 3:44 to go in the third period. After skating down the right side, he deked around defenseman Keith Carney and put a wrister through Giguere's pads.
"It's just shock. You can't believe it," Friesen said. "I've dreamt about it since I was 5 years old and playing with little sticks as a kid. It's just awesome."
After combining for 17 goals in the previous two games, the teams got back to the defensive style that marked the first four contests, totaling just 12 shots in the opening period.
The Ducks had the period's lone power play, but the Devils had the better scoring opportunities.
Sergei Brylin chipped a shot over the net with 11:17 left, then was stopped from the slot by Giguere 5 1/2 minutes later. But New Jersey's best chance came shorthanded while killing a penalty with 1:34 remaining.
Patrik Elias got to a loose puck outside the right faceoff circle, cut to the net and tried a backhander. But Giguere extended his left pad against the right goalpost to make the save.