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(7) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (0-0) at (1) Dallas Stars (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With their path to the Finals a bit clearer, the Dallas
Stars begin the second stage of that road when they host the Mighty Ducks of
Anaheim in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series at
Top-seeded Dallas is the lone division winner left in the West, as both
Detroit and Colorado were upset in the opening round. However, the Stars can
ill afford to be complacent, because it was the Mighty Ducks who knocked off
the defending-champion Red Wings via sweep.
Twenty-five-year-old goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere almost single-handedly
carried the Ducks to the shocker versus Detroit, stopping 165-of-171 shots in
four games. While his club scored the big goals to win each match by one, it
was Giguere's stonewalling of the Wings that set the table.
Detroit carried the play for much of the series and outshot the Ducks by a
combined 171-120 margin. That includes an epic triple-overtime thriller in
Game 1, which saw Giguere make 63 saves on the evening/morning. He finished
with a 1.24 goals-against average and .965 save percentage.
As stated earlier, the Ducks received those timely goals late that the Red
Wings did not. The line of Steve Thomas, Samuel Pahlsson and Stanislav Chistov
led the charge, posting a combined four goals and three assists in the set,
including game-winners in Game 2 and 3. Thomas continued to prove his worth as
a big-gamer, as his slap shot tally in Game 2, after the Ducks had rallied to
tie, was the most critical point in the series because it sent the Red Wings
out to Anaheim down 0-2.
Captain Paul Kariya added two goals for Anaheim, including the heroic winner
in the series opener.
Defensively, Keith Carney was the Ducks' horse in logging an average of 28:55
in ice time during the set. Carney, with some help from center Steve Rucchin,
was often charged with going head-to-head with the Sergei Fedorov line and,
for the most part, was successful. Rucchin will likely have the responsibility
of going head-to-head with Dallas' Mike Modano in this series.
As for the Stars, they had their hands full with the Edmonton Oilers in the
first round, and even fell behind two games to one. But in the end, Dallas was
able to reel off three straight victories en route to a six-game triumph.
The club's turnaround had various reasons, but at the forefront was the play
of Vezina candidate Marty Turco in net. The youngster, getting his first taste
of the Stanley Cup playoffs, could have been shaken after allowing two soft
goals in a Game 3 loss, but instead rebounded by stopping 68 of the final 73
shots fired his way.
A player who shouldn't have to worry about slippage is Modano, who tied with
defenseman Sergei Zubov for the team-lead with 10 points (4g, 6a) against
Edmonton. Modano's third-period marker in Game 6 was the game, and series-
Dallas captain Derian Hatcher did not reach the scoresheet in the first round,
but he might be worth more than any of his teammates. The bruising rearguard
registered a plus-7 in five games, and when he sat out the third tilt due to
suspension all heck broke loose back in the Stars' zone. It was in his absence
that the Oilers were allowed to score three quick third-period goals en route
to a Game 3 victory and 2-1 series lead.
Hatcher leads a blueline corps that is among the best in the business, also
including Zubov, Darryl Sydor, Richard Matvichuk and Philippe Boucher.
The Stars will have some reinforcements for this series, starting with Game 1
when Pierre Turgeon is slated to return from ankle surgery, and Jason Arnott
comes back after missing Game 6 versus Edmonton. All-Star Bill Guerin,
who has been out with a thigh injury, is expected back sometime during the
series but will not play in the opener.
The Stars' franchise has won the first game of a playoff series 28 times,
going 20-8 in those sets. That includes a 7-1 clip in the second round.
Anaheim, in the conference semifinals for only the second time in three
trips to the playoffs, is 2-2 in Game 1s.
Dallas went 3-1-1 against Anaheim this season, and the Ducks lost two-of-three
at AmericanAirlines Center in 2002-03.
Game 2 will be played Saturday afternoon in Big D.
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