Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Ducks square series with 1-0 OT victory

Stanley Cup finals

The Associated Press

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur can't grab this shot in the second period, but it hit the post for no score.
(AP photo)
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ANAHEIM, Calif. - Overtime, again. The Mighty Ducks win, again. Steve Thomas put in former Cincinnati Mighty Duck Samuel Pahlsson's rebound 39 seconds into overtime, giving Anaheim a dramatic 1-0 victory over New Jersey on Monday night and evening the Stanley Cup finals at two games each.

The Devils, once firmly in control after two easy victories at home but now locked in a tied series, lost both games in Anaheim in overtime. Ruslan Salei got the game-winner in Game 3 Saturday.

The goal by the 39-year-old Thomas, a late-season pickup by the Ducks, made Anaheim 7-0 in playoff overtimes. The Devils are 2-4. Of Anaheim's 14 playoff victories, 10 have come in overtime or the final five minutes of the third period.

Thomas's goal came after Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, losing his personal duel with the Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere, initially stopped Pahlsson's shot to the left of the net. But the puck deflected out to the left circle, where Thomas cleanly put it past Brodeur.

Anaheim, guaranteeing that the finals will come back to the Pond for Game 6 Saturday, now have matched the Canadiens' record of 12 one-goal playoffs wins in 1993.

Giguere extended his record playoff overtime shutout streak to 168 minutes, 27 seconds, though he needed to make only one save in the overtime. He stopped all 26 New Jersey shots, including a succession of good attempts during a scoreless but riveting second period. Brodeur turned aside 25 of 26 shots, but again he couldn't stop the winner.

This is the first time since the 1978 finals that the home team has won each of the first four games. Montreal won the first two and Boston won the next two that season. The Canadiens won the series in six games.

Anaheim is 10-0 when it scores first in a playoff game.

Brodeur, whose stick-losing gaffe cost the Devils a goal and, eventually, the game in their 3-2 loss Saturday, gave his team another scare in the third period. This time, though, he didn't give the Ducks a goal.

About 4 1/2 minutes into the period, Brodeur stopped Salei's shot, but the puck dropped from his glove and slithered along the goal line before he swatted it away from his stick. Brodeur then smiled, maybe with a twinge of nervousness, knowing he had gotten away with another nearly grievous mistake.

Well before that, the goaltenders' duel predicted before the series began finally broke out in a second period that was scoreless but by far the most action-filled of a predictably low-scoring series.

Giguere, though far less experienced than Brodeur, matched him save for save - mostly because the forwards were matching each other post for post.

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