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GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks at Calgary Flames.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; tied 3-3.
TIME: Wednesday, 9 p.m. EDT.
In a playoff series that has featured five one-goal games, it seems fitting that the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Mighty Ducks are headed to a Game 7.
After the Ducks forced a decisive contest with one of those one-goal results Monday night, the teams meet at the Pengrowth Saddledome in the finale of the intense, hard-hitting series.
The Flames won the series opener, and the clubs have alternated victories in each game, producing two overtime contests - with each team winning once in the extra period.
Anaheim bounced back from a 3-2 loss in Game 5 that pushed it to the brink of elimination with a hard-fought 2-1 victory Monday night at the Arrowhead Pond. Scott Niedermayer scored the tiebreaking goal at 14:23 of the third period, and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 21 shots in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the Ducks stayed alive.
"We played well tonight, but we had to," Niedermayer said. "We had no choice."
Teemu Selanne scored Anaheim's first goal in the second period, but the biggest key was Bryzgalov, who got the nod to start after Giguere gave up three goals on 18 shots before being pulled for Bryzgalov early in the second in Game 5. Giguere, who earned playoff MVP honors in leading the Ducks to Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals, has allowed an average of 3.87 goals per game during this series.
Giguere may be less than 100 percent physically, as he sat out the Ducks' 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 because of a lower body injury. It's uncertain which goalie coach Randy Carlyle will go with Wednesday night, but he knows he has a confident player in Bryzgalov, who's made only 27 NHL starts.
"I wasn't nervous. Definitely not. It's hockey," said Bryzgalov, who has a 1.08 goal-against average in three games of this series. "Why am I supposed to be nervous? It's a game."
The Ducks and Flames lost in Game 7 in the last two Stanley Cup finals. The sting of falling just short is fresher for Calgary, which lost to Tampa Bay in the decisive game in 2004, and the Flames will try to draw energy from playing on home ice as they look to avoid another near-miss and close out the series.
"It didn't happen for us tonight and now we go to Game 7," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "It's been back and forth the whole series. We go home and we're willing to do whatever it takes."
Iginla proved that Monday, dropping the gloves with Anaheim's Francois Beauchemin just 1:09 into Game 6 of a series that has seen numerous fights.
After scoring twice in both Games 4 and 5, though, Iginla was held to an assist Monday night. He leads the Flames with five goals and eight points in the playoffs.
Stephane Yelle opened the scoring Monday with a goal midway through the first period for Calgary, which got 28 saves from Miikka Kiprusoff. Niedermayer's winning goal came when his shot deflected off Calgary defenseman Rhett Warrener and past the Flames goaltender.
"We had our chances to win, but their goalie did a very good job in making the stops that he had to," said Kiprusoff, who carried the Flames to the Cup finals in 2004.
Calgary is 5-5 in Game 7s, and 2-3 at home, while Anaheim is 1-1 in Game 7s. The Ducks' loss to the New Jersey Devils in the decisive contest in 2003 came on the road.
If Calgary wins Wednesday, the third-seeded Flames will host No. 8 seed Edmonton in the conference semifinals. An Anaheim win would eliminate the last of the top four seeds in the West playoffs, and set up a matchup between the Ducks and the seventh-seeded Colorado Avalanche.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Mighty Ducks - 98 points; 6th seed. Flames - 103 points; 3rd seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Beauchemin, Niedermayer and Selanne, 2 goals and 5 points; five with 3 assists; Sean O'Donnell, 17 PIM. Flames - Iginla, 5 goals and 8 points; Daymond Langkow, 5 assists; Darren McCarty, 15 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Mighty Ducks - Power play: 14.3 percent (6 for 42). Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (33 for 39). Flames - Power play: 15.4 percent (6 for 39). Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (36 for 42).
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Bryzgalov (1-1, 1.08 GAA); Giguere (2-2, 3.88). Flames - Kiprusoff (3-3, 2.27); Brian Boucher (no appearances).
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