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STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS / DUCKS 1, MINNESOTA 0 (2OT)

Ducks' Pat Answer

Giguere, looking more like Roy with each game, is sensational in nets again, and Sykora's goal 8:06 into second overtime wins opener of Western Conference finals.

May 11, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. — This was a rerun and, quite possibly, a preview of coming attractions. But this was not for the Minnesota Wild's viewing pleasure.

Mighty Duck goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere sliding to his right. Save.

Giguere dropping down. Save.

Giguere nonchalantly snagging a slap shot. Save.

Giguere playing just like -- dare it be said? -- Patrick Roy.

Only without the Roy attitude

The Mighty Ducks beat the Wild, 1-0, Saturday when Mike Leclerc raced up ice and slid a slick pass to Petr Sykora, who tucked a nifty back-hander under the crossbar to beat Manny Fernandez for the winning goal 8:06 into the second overtime period.

But the Ducks won Game 1 of the Western Conference finals because of a repetitive performance from Giguere, who at times left the 19,350 at the Xcel Center in a hushed murmur.

"Jiggy is making a case for himself to be moved into the next level of great goaltenders," Duck winger Steve Thomas said. "A lot of guys do a pretty good job, but the ones who are great make a difference in big games. That's what great goaltending is about."

Great, it seems, is the key word there, although few outside of Anaheim attached it to Giguere before the playoffs.

"We're out in Anaheim and it's like we're on a desert island," Leclerc said. "The hockey world is finally getting to see him. He's been doing this for two years."

Giguere stopped all 39 Minnesota shots, and the Wild had bushels of scoring chances, the best coming on a second-period power play. Giguere slid to his left to set up for a shot, but Andrew Brunette sent a quick pass through the crease to Marian Gaborik, the leading goal scorer in the playoffs. Gaborik had an open net, got off a good back-hander and began to raise his hands.

Only ... no red light ... no fog horn ... no goal ... no rebound.

Giguere managed to reach back with his stick to make the save.

"I was looking for the puck in the back of the net," Leclerc said. "I kept looking. I couldn't find it. There was no way he made that save. But he did."

Of course, this was something the Ducks had seen before. Giguere stumped Detroit in three overtimes in Game 1 in the first round. He wore down Dallas over four overtimes and part of a fifth in Game 1 in the conference semifinals. He was more than game for another Game 1 marathon.

"This is what I have been working towards the last three years," Giguere said. "I have worked hard because I wanted this moment."

The Ducks, whose nine playoff victories have all been by one goal, are 5-0 in overtime games this postseason. Montreal set the NHL playoff record by winning 10 consecutive overtime games in 1993.

The Canadiens had Roy. The Ducks have Giguere.

"A French goalie who butterflies?" Wild center Wes Walz said. "Get in line, there are a whole bunch of them."

Giguere moves to the head of that line ... well, maybe second, behind New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.

"Everything Patrick Roy has done speaks for itself," Walz said. "He has put up the numbers. [Giguere] may be well on his way."

And has been for a while.

Growing up in Montreal, Giguere idolized Canadien goaltender Roy, who once gave Giguere a goalie stick.

"I was 12 and I used that stick the whole season," Giguere said. "We won the Quebec Province championship. That stick broke five times. My dad and I glued it back together."

Giguere's new shtick has him close to breaking a Roy record. Roy went 162 minutes 56 seconds of overtime without giving up a goal in the 1993 playoffs. After Saturday's game, Giguere is at 160:49.

"I just wish I could sit and watch Jiggy do his thing sometimes," Duck defenseman Keith Carney said.

The Wild has seen enough. Minnesota had the top-ranked power play in the playoffs and was fresh from scoring 16 goals in its last three games. The Wild was scoreless on five power plays Saturday.

The Ducks labored at the start, while the Wild zipped around despite playing its fourth game in six days. Then the Ducks found their comfort zone in overtime.

This was the fifth consecutive victory in which the Ducks have won with their last shot, three in overtime.

Said center Adam Oates: "You don't want to do something stupid and gamble and do something that gives them a chance."

The Wild did just that.

Defenseman Filip Kuba came up to play the puck, but Oates beat him to it, chipping it off the boards. Leclerc was off and Sykora scored his second goal of the playoffs.

That was the game-winning goal. Giguere was the game-winning reason.

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