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Teams are tired but ready Ducks and Devils will decide Stanley Cup champion tonight

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mike Babcock entered the interview room carrying his luggage and sporting a5 o'clock shadow.

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks' rookie coach was happy to be back in New Jersey, even after a tiring cross-country flight.

After six games against the Devils, all won by the home team, Babcock's players have one more chance to be the first road team to break through. If they do it Monday night in Game 7, the 10-year-old Ducks will win the Stanley Cup.

"I can't express it enough how exciting it is to be with a group of guys that have tried this hard and come this far and been this impressive. I'm honored to be sitting here talking about them," Babcock said Sunday.

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After Babcock left the podium, three of his top players followed him, also answering questions. They were all dressed casually with room keys in hand. Resting before the final game of the season seemed to be soon on the agenda.

"I've been dreaming my whole life of winning the Stanley Cup," forward Rob Niedermayer said. "You pretend you're playing in Game 7 on the pond when you're growing up as a kid. This is a position that you look to get to throughout the career."

It's also one the Devils have become quite accustomed to over the past nine years. In that time, they've won two Cups and squandered a 3-2 series lead when it appeared the 2001 title would be theirs as well.

That was the only time since 1971 a team has blown a 3-2 lead. New Jersey and Anaheim are playing the 12th Game 7 in Stanley Cup finals history.

Home teams are 9-2; the last road winner also was in 1971, Montreal at Chicago.

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