Goalies sparkling in Western finals
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jiggy woke up after Game 3 of the Western Conference finals and knew he had to play better.
The reminder was right outside his window.
"The 5-0 game, I got toilet-papered at my home by Red Wings' fans, so I thought, 'I've got to raise my level here,"' Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said.
Since that lopsided loss, when he gave up three goals on 13 shots before being pulled in the second period, Giguere certainly has raised his playing level.
Evoking memories of 2003, when he was the playoffs MVP as Anaheim reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time, Giguere has stopped 36 shots in each of the past two games to help the Ducks take a 3-2 lead over Detroit in the West finals.
They'll try to wrap the series up Tuesday night at home. Should the Wings win, the teams will return to Detroit for a deciding Game 7 on Thursday night. Ottawa clinched the Eastern Conference championship series against Buffalo by winning Game 5 on Saturday and awaits the Western winner for the Stanley Cup showdown.
Giguere ran his mark in overtime playoff games to 12-1 with Anaheim's 2-1 victory in Game 5 in Detroit on Sunday, his second extra-time win of the series. He kept the Ducks in it until Scott Niedermayer scored with 48 seconds remaining in regulation, and Teemu Selanne won it 11:57 into overtime.
"Jiggy played fantastic for us," defenseman Chris Pronger said.
Another Ducks blue-liner, Sean O'Donnell, said Giguere is able to rise to the challenge.
"I think Jiggy is one of those players, once the stakes get higher, you either kind of crumble under the adversity or you raise your game and things seem to slow down for you," O'Donnell said.
"Jiggy seems to be one of those guys, whether it be in the third period or a 5-on-3 or an overtime, he seems to kind of calm down and elevate his play. There are other goalies who will make more spectacular saves, but rarely will he let in a bad one."
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said there obviously is a lot of pressure on a goalie in overtime, knowing one shot can beat you.
"He's the last line of defense and it takes a lot of courage and a lot of resiliency and a lot of confidence in his style and the way he plays," Carlyle said. "That's a tribute to the individual."
Giguere's overtime record - the best mark among goalies with at least 10 decisions after regulation - sparkles but the 30-year-old goalie would prefer to win in the standard 60 minutes.
"I'd rather, three periods," he said with a smile. "Overtime, I think a lot of it has to be a little about luck. You need your players to score that big goal.
"It seems that more often, the guys in front of me have been able to score that big goal and really not give me that many shots to face. Everybody, when we go to overtime, raises their level a notch, and when we do that as a team, we're tough to beat."
Although he got a lot of notice in 2003, when the Ducks lost to New Jersey in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, Giguere has been overshadowed by the opposing goalies during much of this postseason - including Vancouver's Roberto Luongo in the conference semifinals, and Detroit's Dominik Hasek in this round.
He isn't the least bit offended.
"Dominik is 42 years old. I would talk about him, too," Giguere said. "It's pretty impressive what he's doing at his age. You've got to give a guy like that a lot of respect.
"And those guys (Luongo and Hasek) are in big hockey markets. It's normal they'll be talked about more. That's fine by me."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock, the Ducks' coach when they went to the finals, responded to a question about the challenge Giguere presents to the Red Wings by saying, "Prior to coming down here today, it's not like I thought to myself, 'Oh, we're playing against Jiggy.' I thought we were just playing against a team that's playing hard."
Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has been impressed by Hasek and Giguere.
"Except for that one game (Game 3) when we beat him, he has been playing real well, seeing a lot of shots and making some big-time saves," Lidstrom said of Giguere. "And I think Dom's playing up to par with him."
Despite being a game away from elimination, Babcock was upbeat on Monday, as were the rest of the Red Wings.
"I'm here and our players are here, and players playing in the National Hockey League believe they're in control," he said. "We believe we're in control and we've got to put our best foot forward.
"We're not going away easy, I can tell you that right now. Actually, we're not going away at all."