Wild ride endsBy Ken Peters
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- More magic in Anaheim: The Mighty Ducks are in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time.
Forty-year-old Adam Oates scored twice, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 24 shots on his 26th birthday Friday night as the seventh-seeded Ducks beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 for their second sweep of the playoffs.
The Wild's lone goal against Giguere and the Ducks are the fewest by a team in four games of a series. Boston had just two in a 1935 series, and Montreal had two in a 1952 series.
Minnesota came into the Western Conference finals as the playoffs' top scoring team, with 42 goals, but Giguere stifled the Wild's offense. Their only goal ended Giguere's playoff shutout streak at 217 minutes, 54 seconds -- the longest since 1951 -- and fifth-longest in playoff history.
"I feel the team did an unbelievable job playing in front of me," Giguere said. "They made my job so much easier."
Anaheim will face the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators. New Jersey leads the series 2-1.
"Hopefully, we're going to win," Giguere said. "But it doesn't matter. We'll all be better players -- a better team -- after that."
The Ducks are the second Anaheim long shot to make it to a championship series in some seven months -- the underdog Angels went all the way last fall, winning their first World Series title. Both the Ducks and Angels are owned by the Walt Disney Co., although the baseball team is being sold to Arizona businessman Arturo Moreno, and the hockey team is up for sale.
Giguere, whose goaltending has been the hallmark of Anaheim's 12-2 run through the playoffs, lost his bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive postseason shutout on Minnesota's fourth shot, but was unbeatable the rest of the way.
Oates, signed by Anaheim as a free agent last July, broke a 1-1 tie when he scored on a power play at 8:30 of the second period. As he was for his first goal of the game, Oates was in perfect position, this time parked near the goal just left of the crease.
Mike Leclerc shot from the right circle, Rob Niedermayer got a stick on it, and the puck came through to Oates, who had only to poke it into the net since goaltender Manny Fernandez was guarding the right post.
Leclerc also assisted on Oates' first goal, on a power play at 8:30 of the opening period.
The multigoal playoff game was the sixth of Oates' career, and first since April 28, 1998, when he was with Washington.
Andrew Brunette scored 4:37 in to end Giguere's scoreless streak -- the longest since Montreal's Gerry McNeil went 218:42 in 1951. Giguere had not allowed a goal since the third period of Anaheim's clinching victory over Dallas in the second round.
Brunette deflected Cliff Ronning's shot from the point on a power play for the Wild's first goal against Giguere in 102 shots against him to give Minnesota a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Oates scored four minutes later to tie it. Leclerc's shot bounced off Minnesota defenseman Brad Bombardir and dropped in the slot, where Oates wristed it past Fernandez.
Fernandez faced 28 shots.
Anaheim, in only its third postseason since coming into the league in 1993, swept the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round this year, then knocked off top-seeded Dallas 4-2 in the second. It was the first time in league history that one team had knocked off the top two conference seeds in the same year.
Ten of the Ducks' 12 playoff wins have been by one goal, and one of their losses was a 2-1 defeat by Dallas.
Notes: Montreal's George Hainsworth had the longest playoff shutout streak, going 270:08 in 1930. Dave Kerr of the New York Rangers is second with a streak of 248:35 in 1937, and Detroit's Norm Smith is third (248:32 in 1936). ... Anaheim's Mike Babcock is the first rookie coach to reach the Cup finals since Florida's Doug MacLean in 1996. Montreal's Jean Perron was the last rookie coach to win the Cup, in 1986. ... The sixth-seeded Wild came back from 3-1 series deficits to beat Colorado and Vancouver. ... The Ducks have lost only three of their last 19 going back to the regular season, which they finished with a 4-1-0-1 mark over the final five games.