ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—The Anaheim Mighty Ducks outshot the Edmonton Oilers in every game of the Western Conference finals. What the Oilers did with all those shots—blocking, screening and clogging the shooting lanes—proved the difference.
Raffi Torres scored the go-ahead goal on a tipped shot in the second period, helping Edmonton eliminate the Ducks 2-1 Saturday night and advance to the Stanley Cup finals.
The eighth-seeded Oilers won the conference finals 4-1 and will play for the Cup for the first time since winning it in 1990 for the fifth time in seven seasons.
“This team is similar to our 1990 team because this is so unexpected and we have good goal scoring,” said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, who played on that squad. “Our goaltending was terrific the whole series. Our special teams were outstanding. This is the third series we have won that battle.”
Edmonton awaits either Carolina or Buffalo, whose Eastern Conference finals series is tied 2-2. The Oilers are the lowest-seeded team to ever reach the finals in the current playoff format.
“It’s awesome as a team,” goalie Dwayne Roloson said. “We came from the eighth spot, but it doesn’t mean anything now.”
The Ducks outshot the Oilers in all five games, including a 33-25 advantage Saturday. But Anaheim returned to the offensive slump it was in the first two games, when the Ducks scored two goals, after combining to score 10 in Games 3 and 4.
“It was a strange series that way, where three of those games we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” defenseman Scott Niedermayer said.
Roloson stopped 32 shots and earned his NHL-leading 12th postseason victory for Edmonton, which won the first three games of the series before losing at home Thursday night.
“I felt great, healthy again and a lot of energy, where I didn’t have it in the last game,” said Roloson, who had been hit by the flu bug that infected the Oilers’ locker room.
Edmonton has won eight of nine since falling behind San Jose 2-0 in the previous series.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere was in the Anaheim goal for his second straight game after being benched since the opening round against Calgary, but he couldn’t spark the sixth-seeded Ducks again.
The Oilers killed off all but one of their 11 penalties.
“We didn’t chase them from behind their net,” Edmonton defenseman Chris Pronger said. “If you do that, their speed will beat you every time.”
Anaheim’s Niedermayer brothers, Rob and Scott, both narrowly missed tying the game on power-play attempts in the third.
“We weren’t able to get any clear looks and clear shots and get them by their guys,” forward Rob Niedermayer said.
The Ducks pulled Giguere for an extra attacker with about 3 minutes remaining, but Roloson withstood the flurry of traffic around the net, including the Ducks’ 6-on-3 opportunity.
“I don’t think the better team beat us. We beat ourselves,” said Teemu Selanne, who was scoreless on four shots. “They played a very patient game. They were blocking so many shots that I haven’t seen before and it’s going to make an easier job for the goalie.”
Edmonton rallied from a one-goal deficit and scored twice in the second period.
“After us hunting them in their end and doing a lot of good things, we couldn’t get it across the goal line,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “And they’d come down and have a little bit of flurry and get results from it.”
A slap shot by Marc-Andre Bergeron was tipped off Torres’ stick as he fought off a Ducks defender at 8:31, giving Edmonton a 2-1 lead.
“Bergeron just kind of threw it at the net,” Giguere said. “It was going way wide to my right and he tipped it top-shelf. That’s definitely one of their strengths. They know how to go to the net and they’re really good at tipping those pucks and creating some hard situations for the goalie.”
The Oilers tied it on a wraparound goal by Ethan Moreau at 3:42. Giguere blocked Moreau’s initial shot with his stick, but Moreau got another chance and sent the puck through a narrow opening between Giguere and the post.
Anaheim had its towel-waving fans on their feet with a power-play goal at 7:30 of the first. Francois Beauchemin’s slap shot from the blue line sailed into the top of the net after Jaroslav Spacek was sent off for hooking.
Torres scored for the first time since the Oilers’ semifinal win over San Jose. … Roloson’s 12 wins are the most by an Oilers goalie since Bill Ranford won 16 in the 1990 playoffs. … The Ducks finished a combined 1-6-1 against Edmonton in the regular season and playoffs this season.