Anaheim hopes to keep series going
ANAHEIM, Calif. — With a bit of Jiggy and a bit of juggling, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are still going in the Western Conference finals.
As the Oilers threatened to sweep, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle made a goalie switch — going back to Jean-Sebastien Giguere — and did some line-mixing. Both worked, with the Ducks taking a 6-3 victory Thursday in Edmonton to bring the series back to Anaheim for Game 5 tonight.
“We’re in a situation if we lose another hockey game, our season is over,” Carlyle said. “All we can do is try to build on the positives.”
The Ducks are still on the brink, down, 3-1, and facing the long odds of becoming only the third team in NHL history to win a playoff series after losing the first three games.
They’re certainly feeling better about themselves, though, after scoring nine goals against Dwayne Roloson and the Oilers in the last four periods, ending a losing streak in Edmonton that stretched back to 1999 and halting Edmonton’s seven-game playoff winning string.
“Scoring the nine goals has given us confidence that we can score,” Carlyle said. “There was an aura about their goaltending situation, that we weren’t able to score. But we found a way to get pucks by them, and we’ve worked hard in a lot of areas. It’s not just that one area.”
Along with putting Giguere back in the net, Carlyle used different line combinations in Game 4 to give a different look to the offense.
“Things weren’t going our way on the offensive side, so it’s the coach’s responsibility to try to change things,” Carlyle said. “In the situation we were presented, we felt that it was necessary to move some people around.”
Giguere, the playoff MVP during the Ducks’ run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003, played just well enough in the Game 4 victory. He gave up three goals on the first nine shots he faced but then stopped Edmonton’s last 14.
Although Carlyle wouldn’t say yesterday whether Giguere or Ilya Bryzgalov would be in goal for Game 5, Giguere figures to get the start.
Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer said it was good to see Giguere step up, especially since he was gracious after being benched.
“He’s handled it very well,” he said. “It’s a tough situation, a guy who’s been around and had to step aside while the other goalie was out there.
“To see him come in there and get a big win like that, it was great to see all the guys behind him.”
Giguere, who hadn’t played since April 29, was happy to be back in the thick of things.
“Playoffs are a lot of fun, and you want to be a part of the big games,” said Giguere, who had lost the job to Bryzgalov during the opening round against Calgary.
“When you score six goals, you should be able to get the win,” Giguere said. “We know if we play our game and forecheck and stuff, they’re human just like us. They’ll get tired, they’ll make mistakes, they’ll take penalties.
“Their goaltender is human, after all.”
Roloson faced 46 shots in Game 4, including 25 — to Edmonton’s three — in the first period.
“It was a learning experience for us,” said Roloson, who played despite having the flu-like symptoms that affected several of his teammates during the week. “We sort of got a little lackadaisical about the game. We just showed up, so it was a lesson for us.”
Roloson said he feels “100 percent, kept some food down and some liquids down, so it’s a great day.”
Anaheim had trouble getting the puck past the Edmonton goalie in the first two games, losing, 3-1, both times. The Ducks finally cranked up their offense late in the third game, but still lost, 5-4.
Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said the Oilers’ loss should be a wake-up call.
“When you’re winning a number of games in a row, you can start cutting corners and you get away with it,” he said. “We had been getting away with it, but that came to a painful conclusion.
“It’s a good lesson for everybody, and we know that we definitely have to do much better.”
The only teams to come back from an 0-3 deficit and win an NHL series were the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the 1942 finals, and the New York Islanders in 1975.