PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference Quarterfinal; Mighty Ducks lead 2-0.
For the second straight year, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a big hole in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The defending Stanley Cup champions will try to bounce back from consecutive home losses as their first-round series with the surprising Anaheim Mighty Ducks heads to Arrowhead Pond for Game 3.
In last year’s opening round, the Red Wings won four straight from the Vancouver Canucks after dropping the first two games at home.
But veteran winger Brendan Shanahan admits there’s no guarantee they can do it again.
“Just because we did it last year doesn’t mean we’re going to do it this year,” Shanahan said after Anaheim’s 3-2 win in Game 2 on Saturday.
“But we’ve got that experience to draw on.”
Heading into the series, Anaheim had lost eight straight playoff games to Detroit. The Red Wings swept the Mighty Ducks in the second round in 1997 and the first round in 1999. The ’97 series included three overtime games, including a triple-OT contest.
The Ducks ended the slide with a dramatic 2-1 triple-overtime victory in Game 1.
If the Red Wings rally to win this series, they’ll become just the third team in NHL history to come back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series in consecutive years.
Despite his team’s commanding lead in the series, Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said the Red Wings have been the better team thus far.
“I don’t know why we haven’t played like we can play,” he said. “It’s like we’re so cautious, we’re so worried about them instead of skating and playing the game.”
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been the difference for the Ducks.
He made 34 saves Saturday after stopping an NHL postseason record 63 shots in Game 1.
“Even though we’re up two games, I have so much respect for that team,” said Thomas, who scored the game-winner with 4:14 to play.
“It’s important to keep composure and to stay on an even keel right now.”
Detroit captain Steve Yzerman said the Red Wings don’t deserve to be down 2-0.
“I think we played reasonably well in spite of losing,” Yzerman said.
Game 4 is Wednesday in Anaheim. The series will return to Detroit for Game 5 on Saturday, if necessary.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Red Wings - - 110 points; 2nd seed. Mighty Ducks - 95 points; 7th seed
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Robitaille, Shanahan and Woolley, 1 goal; six players with 1 assist; Shanahan, 2 points; Tomas Holmstrom and Darren McCarty, 4 PIM. Mighty Ducks - Four players with 1 goal; Rob Niedermayer, 2 assists; Niedermayer and Thomas, 2 points; Ruslan Salei, 6 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Red Wings - Power play: Power play: 14.2 percent (1 for 7). Penalty killing: 100.0 percent (8 for 8). Mighty Ducks - Power play: Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 8). Penalty killing: 85.7 percent (6 for 7).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES:Red Wings, 3-1. Detroit won 4-2 in Anaheim in the first meeting and posted a pair of 2-1 victories at home before losing the last matchup, 4-1 at the Arrowhead Pond on March 9. Brett Hull led Detroit with three goals in the series, while Paul Kariya was the only Anaheim player with more than one.