In a series that has had its share of ups and downs as well as wide-open play and shut-down defense, the ultimate result has been easy to predict. Score the first goal, and you'll win. Anaheim did just that on Friday, and in the process staved off elimination for at least two more nights.
Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Sean O'Donnell had a goal and assist each, and Corey Perry and Todd Marchant also scored in the Ducks' 5-2 Game 5 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday night at Honda Center. The Stars still hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Quarterfinal series, and will look to dispose of the defending Stanley Cup champions when Game 6 occurs Sunday night at 8 (FSN) at American Airlines Center.
Mike Ribeiro and Mattias Norstrom scored for the Stars, who lost for the first time on the road in this series after taking the first two games in Anaheim. Marty Turco, meanwhile, finished with 27 saves, as once again the team that registered the first goal of the game ended up securing the victory.
"We would have loved to close it out tonight since our effort was there, but we gave them too many chances," Turco said. "We'll just have to do it at home."
Looking to advance to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2003, the Stars threw everything they had at Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere throughout the fast-paced affair. But the hefty netminder played perhaps his finest game of the series, eventually spitting out 40 Dallas shots, including 30 in the first 40 minutes.
"'I thought Giguere played well tonight and made some key saves," gritty forward Steve Ott said. "I think it definitely could have went our way tonight, but you know what…we just need to turn all those scoring chances into goals."
"I felt really good tonight," Giguere said. "My job is just to try to give the team a chance to win. If I do that, I feel like we have the guys up front that can score some goals and we did that tonight. Dallas is a good team. It wasn't always pretty, but we did the job and found a way to win. It was do or die. I wanted to leave it all on the table."
Despite playing the night before, the two teams came out flying in a spirited first period in which 29 shots were taken while 40 minutes of penalties were handed out, including 10-minute misconducts given to Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin and Dallas captain Brenden Morrow.
Showing no Game 4 hangover either, both Turco and Giguere each came up with big saves in the electrifying first, with Turco making a huge stop on Selanne right on the doorstep just 10 seconds into the contest. The save set the tone for a marvelous display of goaltending, as both teams continually were frustrated by the pair.
"Giguere was really good, and we just couldn't get enough past him," center Brad Richards said. "We would've liked to have finished them off, but that's a tough feat. They are a very desperate team and we have to match that desperation. That's how you finish off playoff series."
But unlike the previous four games, the Stars power play was unable to break through, especially in that opening frame in which they came up empty on five man-advantage opportunities. Overall, Dallas failed to cash in on all seven of its power plays, while the Ducks capitalized on 2 of their 3 power play chances.
That special teams discrepancy played a major role in the outcome, especially since Selanne's game-winner early in the third came with the Stars down two men.
"The special teams were the difference on their side tonight," coach Dave Tippett said. "They capitalized on their power plays and we didn't. I thought we weathered the storm really well at the start of the game and I thought we competed very hard. I like our group right now. They are competing hard and giving us every drop of energy they have. That was some playoff tonight and that's what it's all about. There was definitely a lot of energy in the building."
The Ducks began to take control on that Selanne two-man advantage goal just 48 seconds into the final frame. The Finnish forward banged home Chris Pronger's blast from the point that ricocheted off the end boards and right onto Selanne's stick.
Ribeiro gave the Stars life when he cut the deficit to 3-2 with his second goal of the series nearly four minutes later. Ribeiro came out from behind the net with the puck before he deftly pivoted and whipped the puck into the net all in one motion with 15 minutes left in regulation.
A couple of minutes later Turco and Selanne collided violently along the left boards when they both raced for a loose puck at the hash marks, a play that personified the up-tempo game.
"I thought it was a great game," Ott said. "It was exciting and it was intense."
After the Ribeiro goal, the Stars went into a full press to get the equalizer, putting the Ducks back on their heels. But Giguere was there to bail out his beleaguered team until O'Donnell restored Anaheim's two-goal lead on a goal with just under eight minutes left in regulation.
Marchant capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:24 left.
"They took advantage of their chances," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We still have the series lead and we know it's not going to be easy. We didn't play that poorly, we just have to bear down and keep our focus on Sunday night. Playoffs are about finding ways to stick with it, capitalizing on chances and just winning battles."
With the game tied at a goal apiece, the Ducks grabbed a 2-1 lead 11 minutes into the second period on Getzlaf's power-play goal. Standing with the puck in the lower portion of the left circle, Getzlaf sent a shot towards the net that eluded Turco, who was being screened by Scott Niedermayer.
The Ducks jumped on the board first when Perry scored his first of the postseason at 8:25 to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. After Trevor Daley was unable to keep the puck inside the Ducks zone along the left boards, Perry picked it up and skated down the right wing before letting go a wrist shot that beat Turco between the legs.
Norstrom tied it with his first career playoff goal with just 1:33 remaining in the first. Just as an Anaheim penalty had expired, Norstrom accepted a slick feed from Richards in the left circle. The defenseman calmly lifted the puck over Giguere to knot the game at 1.
"It was a nice pass at the end of our power play and I was fortunate to find a hole," Norstrom said. "You want to close it out, it didn't happen, but it's still Anaheim fighting for their lives. We are still in control and we can finish it off Sunday. It was tough out there, and no way can we feel bad about our performance tonight. We generated enough chances, we just didn't capitalize the way we should have."
The Stars now look to Sunday for the pivotal Game 6 encounter, and will attempt to knock out an Anaheim team that suddenly won't go easily.
"They are always a dangerous team and we definitely don't take anything for granted," Turco said. "We were making plays and had our chances tonight but it didn't go our way. You have two teams that are hungry and very desperate and the one who buries their chances is going to win."
Added Ott: "The Dallas fans are huge for us and give us a boost of energy. We are looking forward to playing in front of them on Sunday night."
-- The Stars had about 2,500 tickets available for Game 6 when Game 5 went final. The team sold 500 in less than five minutes, so call 214-GO-STARS or click here to purchase them now. Most of the tickets are upstairs at the $33 level.
-- Ribeiro has eight points in the series, and has reached the scoresheet in four of the five games.
-- Morrow picked up his sixth point of the series with an assist on Ribeiro's goal.
-- Rookie defenseman Matt Niskanen notched his first career playoff point with an assist on Norstrom's goal.
-- Robidas left with about 13 minutes to go in the first period after taking a puck to the face. He returned for the second period. "It hit my visor first," he said. "Thank God it did or I'd be much worse."
-- There still hasn't been a one-goal game in the series, while the final score in Game 5 was exactly the same as in Game 2.
-- Heading into the game, the Stars power play had converted on 31 percent of its chances.
-- Dallas has won seven of the eight times it's been ahead 3-1 in a best-of-seven series in franchise history.
-- Scratched for Dallas were defensemen Philippe Boucher (lower body) and Nolan Baumgartner, and forwards Krys Barch, Brad Winchester and B.J. Crombeen.
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