|Defending Cup champ Ducks eliminated|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 20 April 2008 19:11|
Defending champion Anaheim was eliminated from the playoffs with a 4-1 loss in Game 6 at Dallas on Sunday night, ending the first-round Western Conference series.
``We're disappointed because we believed we could do better,'' Scott Niedermayer said. ``Come up short like that, it explains itself.''
Like the four Stanley Cup champions before them, the Anaheim Ducks failed to even make it past the first round of the playoffs. At least they made the postseason, unlike Carolina and Tampa Bay, the two previous champs.
But Anaheim never could recover after losing the first two games of the series at home. And they couldn't hold on to force a do-or-die Game 7 at home after taking a 1-0 lead early in the second period. Dallas scored twice in a 52-second span to open the third period and advanced in the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
``We didn't prosper like we did last year for whatever reason,'' Ducks left wing Chris Kunitz said. ``We didn't step up when we needed to in the playoffs.''
The Ducks lost only five games and never faced an elimination game in the 2007 playoffs.
``This is not a very happy ending,'' said Teemu Selanne, who didn't rejoin the Ducks until the final 26 games of the regular season in hopes of hoisting the Cup again.
Selanne said he doesn't regret his decision to return, but won't decide for a ``month or so'' if he will come back for a 17th NHL season.
Niedermayer, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as last year's playoff MVP, also didn't start the season with the Ducks. He sat out the first 34 games before coming back.
Then the Ducks finished the regular season, and started the playoffs, without top goal scorer Corey Perry because of a freak quad injury sustained when he was sliced by a goalie's skate. Perry didn't play until Game 4 against the Stars, and had the only Anaheim goal Sunday night 2:11 into the second period.
Anaheim still had that lead when Stephane Robidas scored a power-play goal 1:18 into the third period, and Stu Barnes quickly got another goal past Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
``You start off your first two games at home and you lose them both, you're scratching and clawing trying to get back in the series,'' captain Chris Pronger said. ``We gave ourselves an opportunity being up 1-0 going into the third. (After those goals), they just trapped us to death.''
Pronger's season ended in the penalty box. He was whistled for cross-checking with 1:31 left.
It was still a one-goal game with 2:42 left when Perry and Ryan Getzlaf - the Ducks' top two scorers - were stifled in front of the Dallas net. Perry was on the ice in a pile with goalie Marty Turco, who had the puck and the series secured under him.
Seconds later, Loui Eriksson's goal put the game out of reach. Mike Modano added an empty netter with 4 seconds left.
Colorado was the last defending Stanley Cup champ to advance in the postseason, getting to the 2002 Western Conference finals before losing in seven games to eventual champion Detroit. The Red Wings, still the last to win back-to-back Cups (1997 and 1998), were then swept by the Ducks in the opening round of the 2003 playoffs.
``We tried. Every guy gave it everything he had,'' Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. ``You thank them for their work ethic throughout the course of the season, but their lack of execution in the playoffs is an issue we'll deal with over the summer.''