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GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (43-27-12) at Calgary Flames (46-25-11).
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Game 1.
TIME: Friday, 10 p.m. EDT.
The Calgary Flames and Anaheim Mighty Ducks stood on the ice and watched while the last two Stanley Cups were awarded. Now the NHL's last two runnerups begin their quest to try and bring home the trophy when they meet at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Both clubs came within one victory of the Cup, as the Flames lost Game 7 at Tampa Bay 2-1 in 2004 after leading 3-2 in the series. The Mighty Ducks forced a Game 7 against New Jersey in 2003 after trailing 3-2, but fell 3-0 on the road in the decisive contest.
Calgary earned its second straight trip to the postseason by winning the Northwest Division and recording 103 points, its highest total since 1988-89, when it captured its only Stanley Cup. Despite lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, the third-seeded Flames haven't forgotten how it felt to fall just short of a championship.
"Getting that close and not being successful is something you have to live with," defenseman Rhett Warrener said. "It's not something that's fun to live with so I think guys are hungry and that's one of the big things that will hopefully give us that little extra incentive."
Two of the main components from that Flames team - forward Iginla and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff - could again give Calgary a chance to advance deep into the playoffs. Iginla scored 35 goals, while Kiprusoff had a career season with a club-record 42 wins and league highs of 10 shutouts and a 2.07 goals-against average.
Iginla had two goals and four assists in four games against Anaheim this season, and has 14 goals and 10 assists in 28 postseason games. Kiprusoff is 16-12 in the postseason with a 1.85 GAA.
Calgary went 7-1-3 in its last 11 games, with its only regulation loss coming to Anaheim in Monday's regular-season finale, 4-3. The Flames have won four in a row at home against the Ducks, outscoring them 14-6 in those games.
Sixth-seeded Anaheim recorded franchise bests of 43 wins and 98 points, and is back in the playoffs after missing out last season. Like the Flames, the Ducks still have a key player on their roster that helped them reach the Cup finals in Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Ducks goalie was the biggest reason that upstart Anaheim pushed the heavily favored Devils to a Game 7 in 2003, going 15-6 with a 1.62 GAA during that postseason to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP despite being on the losing team. Giguere had a solid season in 2005-06, recording 30 wins and a 2.66 GAA.
Anaheim also has right wing Teemu Selanne, who had 40 goals and 50 assists in a resurgent 2005-06 season. He scored the winning goal against Calgary on Monday night.
"I think we have more speed than we did in 2003," said Selanne, who played for San Jose in 2002-03 and returned to the Ducks this season after playing for them from 1995-01. "This team is really young, and I believe that speed is really going to be the key."
The Ducks set club records with 251 goals and 87 on the power play this season, but they have cooled off of late. Anaheim went 3-4 in its final seven games after going 12-3 in the previous 15.
"We've got a tough opponent in the playoffs and we want to go out there and concentrate on beating those guys and perform as well as we can," Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said. "We have to keep our focus and play our game."
Monday's game saw the teams combine for 102 penalty minutes. The Ducks converted three of 13 power-play opportunities to snap a three-game losing streak.
"They're a very quick team and they've got some very good young guys," said Iginla, who had a goal and an assist. "We know that it's going to be tough, but it's nice that the playoffs are finally here."
Game 2 will be Sunday night at Calgary.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Mighty Ducks - 98 points; 6th seed. Flames - 103 points; 3rd seed.
REGULAR SEASON TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Selanne, 40 goals and 90 points; Andy McDonald, 51 assists; Todd Fedoruk, 174 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 35 goals and 67 points; Daymond Langkow, 34 assists; Darren McCarty, 117 PIM.
REGULAR SEASON SPECIAL TEAMS: Mighty Ducks - Power play: 18.1 percent (87 for 480), 15th. Penalty killing: 83.5 percent (426 for 510), 13th. Flames - Power play: 18.2 percent (87 for 478), 12th. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (428 for 508), 7th.
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Giguere (30-15-11, 2 SO, 2.66 GAA); Ilya Bryzgalov (13-12-1, 1, 2.51). Flames - Kiprusoff (42-20-11, 10, 2.07); Brian Boucher (4-8-0, 4.15).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: 2-2. Langkow had three goals and three assists for the Flames, while Selanne recorded two goals and two assists for Anaheim. The home team won each meeting.
|Apr 21 '06||ANA 1 at CGY 2 - OT|
|Apr 23 '06||ANA 4 at CGY 3|
|Apr 25 '06||CGY 5 at ANA 2|
|Apr 27 '06||CGY 2 at ANA 3 - OT|
|Apr 29 '06||ANA 2 at CGY 3|
|May 01 '06||CGY 1 at ANA 2|
|May 03 '06||ANA 3 at CGY 0|
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