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Goalies sparkling in Western finals

Monday, 05.21.2007 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Detroit Red Wings
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Goalies sparkling in Western finals
By The Associated Press

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."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80