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STANLEY CUP FINALS Ducks vs. New Jersey, Game 6, Tonight
at the Pond, 5, Ch. 7

Silver Mettle

Ducks aim to keep Devils from winning Cup, partying at Pond

June 07, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The Stanley Cup, that big silver thing, will be in the Arrowhead Pond tonight, all polished and ready to be awarded.

The Mighty Ducks can get a good view of that ceremony in the comfy confines of their own arena. All it will take is one more loss to the New Jersey Devils.

That's a sight the Ducks would like to avoid. "It was one of the worst moments I have had in sports," Duck right wing Rob Niedermayer said. "It's something you never want to experience."

Home was where the heartache was for Niedermayer in 1996, when he was with the Florida Panthers. He had to watch the Colorado Avalanche players cavort about the Panthers' home arena, handing the Cup to each other.

"They won the first two in Jersey, we won two here," Niedermayer said. "They won in Jersey [Thursday], now it is our turn."

No matter the outcome, the Cup will be shipped to New Jersey on Sunday. Whether it goes as Devil property or a dangling carrot for both teams is the only issue to be settled tonight.

"It's definitely up for grabs for us," Devil goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We put ourselves in a great situation.... Definitely, it's an exciting opportunity to really show the world how dominant we were for the last 10 years or so."

A victory gives the Devils their third Stanley Cup since 1995.

A Duck victory gives them a Game 7, Monday in New Jersey.

The idea of not letting the Devils skate around the Pond, Cup held high, is only a perk.

"Obviously, we're going to do anything we can to prevent that," goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "Then we'll see. Any team would tell you that. We don't want to let them win it in our house."

The Ducks were talking Friday about trends, even in the wake of an embarrassing 6-3 loss to the Devils on Thursday, when the Ducks were outworked.

"We just have to hold serve," defenseman Keith Carney said.

The Ducks tossed away a golden opportunity to break serve in New Jersey. They scored the first goal and were 10-0 when scoring first in the playoffs. The Devils squandered 2-1 and 3-2 leads. And Brodeur had a rare stinker at home.

"I was really thankful for my offense," Brodeur said. "You usually don't say that too often because they don't score too many goals.... I felt like I had two boxing gloves on my hands."

And it was the Ducks who were knocked out.

"Our situation is the same as it was before," Duck defenseman Ruslan Salei said. "We just need to win two games to win the Cup. That starts [tonight] in Anaheim."

This is the first time since 1978 that the home teams have won the first five games in the Cup finals. The Ducks, though, might not want to lean on that too much. In 1978, Montreal won the Cup in Game 6. On Boston's home ice.

"It doesn't matter where you lose the Cup," said center Adam Oates, who while with Washington in 1998 watched Detroit celebrate in the Capitals' arena. "You lost it. That's enough."

This is the first time the Ducks have faced an elimination game this postseason. They had been the eliminators in the previous three series.

The role reversal comes with some long odds.

Of the previous 17 teams that trailed, 3-2, in the Stanley Cup finals, only four came back to win the Cup. Of course, one of those teams that failed to close out a series after leading, 3-2, was New Jersey in 2001.

Colorado went to New Jersey and spanked the Devils in Game 6, then won Game 7 two days later in Denver. That memory has Devil players cautious.

"I think our team always feels confident," right wing Jamie Langenbrunner said. "It's just having the heart and determination that nothing is going to stop you from getting there."

The Ducks preached the same homily. The difference is, they are one game closer to working on their golf games.

"It is going to be interesting to see how we respond," Giguere said. "We haven't faced an elimination game. It's a new challenge. I just know that we will come out of this as better players. We will come out of this a better team."

Whether they will come out of this with a Game 7 remains to be seen.

"Our focus is to win the game, send this back to New Jersey," Duck left wing Mike Leclerc said. "Part of that is, we do not want to experience another team winning the Cup here."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

First Strike

*--* The Ducks' streak of playoff victories in games in which they scored first ended at 10 Thursday in New Jersey. A look at games in which the Ducks struck first: Game Site Result VS. DETROIT 2 at Detroit W, 3-2 3 at Anaheim W, 2-1 VS. DALLAS 1 at Dallas W, 4-3 (5 OT) 2 at Dallas W, 3-2 (OT) 4 at Anaheim W, 1-0 VS. MINNESOTA 1 at Minnesota W, 1-0 (2 OT) 2 at Minnesota W, 2-0 3 at Anaheim W, 4-0 VS. NEW JERSEY 3 at Anaheim W, 3-2 (OT) 4 at Anaheim W, 1-0 (OT) 5 at New Jersey L, 6-3

*--*

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