Game 5 - Ducks 4, Minnesota 1
Apparently all it took was a little home cooking for the Ducks to finish off the Minnesota Wild.
Giguere had 26 saves in his first start of the series.
Anaheim completely outplayed the Wild in a convincing 4-1 victory in Game 5 at Honda Center, slamming the door on this Western Conference Quarterfinals series, 4 games to 1.
Just like in Game 4, Pronger got the Ducks started with a goal in the first period. Pronger's slap shot from above the left circle whistled by Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom on his glove side and nestled into the right side of the net. The crowd erupted, even though many of them hadn't found their seats yet.
The second stanza was marked by several special teams highlights, the first coming after Scott Niedermayer took a 4-minute double minor for high sticking. To make matters worse, Sean O'Donnell was whistled for a delay of game after he cleared the puck over the glass. As the Ducks were killing the 5 on 3, Francois Beauchemin and Marian Gaborik both went off for roughing after they traded punches following a Backstrom save.
When the penalties finally expired without a Wild goal, thanks in great part to J.S. Giguere's netminding, the 17,318 at Honda Center got about as loud as they had been all night. As much as the Ducks' four goals helped, they can point to that sequence as the key to their victory.
"We had traffic in front of [Giguere] and I shot it as hard as I could shoot it," said Minnesota forward Brian Rolston. "I hit him in the shoulder once and hit him low and he sucked up the rebounds. We had guys all around him. But he kept the rebounds to himself. You have to give him credit on that, but 5 on 3 in the playoffs, you've got to bury one of those."
"Killing that 5 on 3," said Teemu Selanne, "was the turning point for sure."
Later in the period, the Ducks smelled blood when Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard also went off for high sticking double minor. But in a surprising turn of events, it was the Wild who struck first, as Gaborik netted a shorthand goal. Gaborik took a nice right-to-left feed from Wes Walz, gathered it and wristed it past Giguere on his stick side.
But the Ducks soon got it back on the power play, as Ryan Getzlaf scored his second of the playoffs. Scott Niedermayer's shot from the right circle was blocked in front and tipped by Dustin Penner. Getzlaf picked up the loose puck and sent a backhander that clanged off the left post, then right post and in.
"We gave up a shorthanded goal, and those can kill you," Getzlaf said. "But we bounced back the way we wanted to and it just exploded from there. We've got to tip our hat to the goaltender. He made a couple of big saves there and he did a great job."
That made it 2-1 Anaheim, where it remained through the end of the period despite several scoring chances. They outshot Minnesota in the period, 22-11.
Midway through the third, Perry gave the Ducks much-needed insurance with a workmanlike goal. Dustin Penner forced his way to the net on the right side and pushed the puck into Backstrom's legs. It got loose and Perry jabbed at it twice before it slipped through.
The rest of the third was back and forth with few scoring chances, aside from Perry's goal and an empty-netter with 57 seconds left by Travis Moen. The checking line of Moen, Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer also keyed the Ducks, shutting down Minnesota's best forwards.
"We played really solid tonight," said Selanne. "We played well and I really believe we earned this series. Everybody did their jobs and that's what it takes. We said we had to be ready to play our best game and I think it was. I thought we dominated in many ways."
Beauchemin also played brilliantly, despite missing Game 4 after taking a puck to the face in Game 3. He played the entire game with a clear face mask that got tested during his scuffle with Gaborik.
Giguere, starting his first game of the series after doing mop-up duty in Game 4, saved 26 of the 27 Wild shots.
"It's been an emotional couple of weeks," said Giguere, who had been dealing with medical problems involving his newborn son. "A lot of things have happened. Just getting back in there and winning a hockey game was awesome. But I can't really take the credit for this series. The guys did a great job and Bryz played unbelievable in the first four games. He gave us a chance every night. Even the night where he didn't win, I thought he played awesome. And the rest of the guys did an awesome job. They should get the rewards for this."
The Ducks open the Western Conference Semifinals either April 25 or 26.
With tonight's win, the Ducks clinched a berth to the Western Conference Semifinals for the fourth time in franchise history. This is the Ducks' seventh club postseason series win (11 series appearances).
With their series-clinching win tonight, the Ducks extended their postseason record versus Minnesota to 8-1.
With tonight's win, the Ducks now have a 32-25 record in the postseason(.561 win %). The club has improved their overall home playoff record to 19-7.
The Ducks shut out the Wild in the first period in each of their five postseason contests.
Chris Pronger has a four-game point streak (2-4=6), scoring a goal for the second consecutive game.
Ryan Getzlaf has points in four of five postseason contests this season, scoring 1-4=5 points during that span.
J.S. Giguere stopped 26-of-27 shots in his first start of the postseason, his 19th career playoff win.
Going back to the regular season, the Ducks now have a 25 game sellout streak.
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Ducks are going to the Western Conference Semifinals.
19:03 - ANA GOAL - TRAVIS MOEN - Minnesota empties the net and pays for it, as Moen retrieves the puck and skates in unimpeded for his first of the playoffs.
10:29 - ANA GOAL - COREY PERRY - Dustin Penner forces his way to the net on the right side and pushes the puck between Backstrom's legs. He stops it but can't control it as it gets loose and Corey Perry bangs it through. It's not pretty but it's 3-1 Ducks. Give the second assist to Chris Pronger.
0:00 - Here we go with what promises to be an intense third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks dominate the period, outshooting the Wild 22-11 and getting another goal, this time from Getzlaf on the power play. But the period is slightly spoiled by the Wild's shorthander. One of the highlights for the Ducks was killing a 2-minute 5 on 3 and the 4 minutes with Scott Niedermayer in the box.
16:29 - ANA GOAL (POWER PLAY) - RYAN GETZLAF - And the Ducks take advantage, as Scott Niedermayer takes a shot from the right circle that's blocked in front. Dustin Penner tips it to Getzlaf who backhands it off the left post and in. It almost hits the right post as well on its way to the twine. It's 2-1 Ducks.
15:42 - MIN GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - MARIAN GABORIK - Wes Walz makes a centering pass to Gaborik who gathers and fires it past Giguere in his stick side. Goalie Niklas Backstrom gets the second assist. It's 1-1, but the Ducks still have plenty of power play time left.
15:01 - MIN PENALTY - Derek Boogaard, 4 min. (double minor), high sticking. Boogaard gets Kent Huskins with a high stick and it cuts him.
12:34 - The Ducks get a 3 on 1 with their top line. Teemu Selanne's shot is stopped by Backstrom. Andy McDonald pokes it in underneath him, but the officials rule that the play had been blown dead. The crowd goes from a loud cheer to heavy booing.
10:18 - The Ducks kill the penalties without a scratch. The crowd knows how huge that was.
9:10 - ANA and MIN PENALTIES - ANA Francois Beauchemin and MIN Marian Gaborik each get roughing minors for throwing punches after the Giguere save. The Ducks have 3 defensemen in the box.
8:22 - ANA PENALTY - Sean O'Donnell, 2 min. delay of game. The Ducks really dig themselves a hole when O'Donnell tries to clear the puck off the glass and it flies into the netting. The Wild are 5 on 3 for the next two minutes, and they take a timeout to strategize.
7:17 - ANA PENALTY - Scott Niedermayer, 4 min. (double minor) high sticking.
During the timeout the sight of Snoop Dogg on the video board brings the unique sound of shock and elation from the crowd. He calmly holds up an orange foam finger.
6:48 - Among the many Ducks chances for the Ducks in the past few minutes, Kent Huskins makes a nice feed to Teemu Selanne, whose one-timer is yet another Backstrom stop.
3:05 - MIN PENALTY - Stephane Veilleux, 2 min. cross checking. Ducks are 0-1 on the PP.
0:00 - We're underway in the second, with the Wild on the PP.
Add this to the list of things you never would have thought you'd see at a hockey game: rapper Snoop Dogg, interviewed by Fox Sports Net at the intermission.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks dominate most of the period, outshooting the Wild 11-6 and getting the one Pronger goal. It's 1-0 Ducks, but the Wild will have 1:36 of power play time when we come back.
19:35 - ANA PENALTY - Travis Moen, 2 min. roughing. Wild enforcer Derek Boogard gets rough with Scott Niedermayer at the end of a play, and Travis Moen steps in to push Boogard to the ground. An all-skater scuffle ensues and Moen gets the only minor.
13:20 - Beuchemin fires yet another slapper, this time from the right point, and Backstrom denies it and holds.
10:43 - Chris Kunitz unleashes a wrister that Backstrom gloves and holds.
8:49 - MIN PENALTY - Brian Rolston, 2 min. holding. Rolston grabs ahold of Moen on their way up the ice. First PP for the Ducks.
6:08 - The Ducks almost bang it in as they hack away in front of Backstrom, but he covers it. A minor scuffle ensues.
2:38 - ANA PENALTY - Corey Perry, 2 min. tripping. First power play of the night for the Wild.
1:02 - ANAHEIM GOAL - CHRIS PRONGER - Pronger's slap shot from above the left circle whistles by Backstrom on his glove side and nestles into the right side of the net. Samuel Pahlsson gets the assist on the feed to Pronger. The crowd goes ballistic, even though many of them haven't found their seats yet.
0:00 - And we're underway in Game 5 in what has already been a contentious battle even before the opening faceoff. Two questions are answered as Francois Beauchemin and J.S. Giguere are announced in the starting lineups to loud ovations. And Selanne appears okay after getting hit in the head with a puck during warmups. Beauchemin is wearing a protective mask that looks like a clear football facemask.
Starting Goaltenders: ANA J.S. Giguere; MIN Niklas Backstrom
If there was any doubt whether tonight would get physical, it was washed away as early as the pregame warmups. After some trash-talking between the two teams, Ducks enforcer and Wild heavyweight Derek BoogAard began throwing punches at each other. That led to both teams converging in a scuffle before things calmed down.
In an unrelated incident, Teemu Selanne took a puck off the head during the warmups. He skated off under his own power, but was bleeding. We'll update you on his status soon.
The Fowl Towels were laid over the seats tonight, rather than being handed out at the door. The sea of orange looks kind of cool.
7:30 p.m. at Honda Center
TV: Fox Sports Net Prime Ticket Radio: AM 830
The Wild managed to stave off a sweep with a 4-1 win in Game 4 in Minnesota. Now they'll be looking to make a little history.
Despite giving up three goals in the third period (and four unanswered) in Game 4, the Ducks have to be feeling confident in the friendly confines of Honda Center. That is where they defeated the Wild, 2-1 and 3-2 in the first two games of this series, and it's the same place Anaheim was 26-6-9 this season.
The Ducks are also hoping to get back defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who missed Game 4 after taking a puck to the jaw in Game 3. Beauchemin's mouth required stitches and he lost a tooth. He skated with the Ducks Wednesday morning, but his chances for appearing in Game 5 are a gametime decision.
In addition to the scoring surge by Minnesota, Game 4's third period was also marked by several skirmishes between the Ducks and Wild. Ducks left wing Brad May was issued a match penalty and a game misconduct for delivering punching Minnesota defenseman Kim Johnsson. At around the same time, Anaheim's Kent Huskins and Minnesota's Adam Hall engaged in a fight that that Ducks left wing Shawn Thornton joined. Thornton received a game misconduct as the third man in. May's match penalty is being reviewed by the league.
The Ducks may have been frustrated by the stellar Minnesota defense in the game, something they were known for all season. First-year goalie Niklas Backstrom continued to play well, and has given up an average of 2.00 goals per game in the series. He has deserved more than getting his first win of the series in Game 4, but he finally got scoring support from the standout Wild forwards. Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish, two of the top scorers for the Wild in the regular season, finally scored their first goals of the series in the game.
The fourth one's always the hardest," Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We have to go home now and win our home games. We were able to do that in the first two and we came in here and stole one. Now we've got the advantage going back home."