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Ducks win first Stanley Cup in franchise history

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks were born on the silver
screen and came of age by capturing the shiniest of silver cups.

They dropped the mighty from their name, but not their game and
skated off with the first Stanley Cup championship in California
history.

The 14-year-old Ducks captured the NHL title with a 6-2 victory
over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, ending the series in
five games in front of the home folks again.

For the first time, the Stanley Cup can enjoy an NHL western
home, and the Ducks' victory came at the expense of Canada. The
cherished trophy was born in Ottawa, but no team north of the
border has won it since Montreal in 1993.

"Canada loves their hockey, and from what I heard out there, we
have quite a few fans who love their hockey out here, too," said
captain Scott Niedermayer, a four-time champion from British
Columbia and this year's Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Calgary, Edmonton and now Ottawa -- in its first trip since the
Senators were reborn in 1992 -- had three straight chances only to
be done in by U.S. clubs from the sun belt. Tampa Bay, Carolina and
Anaheim aren't traditional hockey hotbeds but they have been the
Cup's warm weather homes since 2004.

Wayne Gretzky made the game a happening in Southern California
when he came to Los Angeles in 1988, the Ducks made it legit two
decades later. No longer Disney's darlings, the Mighty Ducks' movie
days are gone. A victory rally awaits the new Ducks on Saturday.

Niedermayer brought his brother Rob and teammates
Teemu Selanne
and Chris Pronger along for the ride for their first Stanley Cup.
Rob Niedermayer is one of three Ducks left from the losing side in
2003 when Scott and the New Jersey Devils captured their third
title in Game 7.

Only goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere had something to smile about
in 2003 when he was given the Conn Smythe. This was so much sweeter as
he stopped 11 shots in the clincher. The biggest roar for him came
when Antoine Vermette had the puck slide wide of the post during a
third-period penalty shot, the 10th in finals history.

Scott Niedermayer finally earned the MVP award many thought he
deserved four years ago. His biggest thrill came when he handed the
Cup off to Rob, a big reason he came to Anaheim before last season.

"I don't think I'll ever have a better feeling than that in my
career," Rob said. "When he came here, I know he turned down a
lot from New Jersey and he had a lot of fond memories there.

"I never touched it when he won. He's won so much, but he's
never been a guy whose ever rubbed it in a guy's face. He's been
rooting for me my whole career, and I'm just lucky to have him as a
brother."

The 36-year-old Selanne, the Ducks' leading scorer this season,
waited 14 seasons to become a champion. Pronger was on Edmonton
last season when the Oilers lost in seven games to Carolina. He
returned to the lineup for the clincher after serving a one-game
suspension.

A perfect finish after demanding a trade from Edmonton last
summer.

"This is a special moment," he said. "It's always worth it
when you win it."

Pronger became a target because of his Game 3 hit on
Dean McAmmond that knocked the Ottawa forward out of the series with a
concussion and drew the one-game suspension. Pronger absorbed a
hard shot behind the Anaheim net from Antoine Vermette in the first
period, leaving him with a separated shoulder.

"I just kind of got hit awkwardly there and went into the
boards funny and separated it," Pronger told TSN of Canada.

He played the rest of the game, following a brief absence,
before returning.

"I was going to be on the ice, no question," he said.

Sticks and gloves flew in front of Giguere when it ended.
Fireworks went off and streamers fell as the Ducks rushed off the
bench to celebrate.

Selanne bounced on his skates and shook the Cup after Pronger
handed it to him on the opposite side of the ice from where a
banner dropped signifying the Ducks' championship. Heavy showers of
confetti fell to the ice.

"I was just like, 'I couldn't believe it, it's going to
happen,"' Selanne said. "So much hard work, so many years to
dream about that moment.

"There has been times I didn't know if it was ever going to
happen."

Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson, the first European captain
in finals history, came up short of his first championship in 11
seasons. He supplied all the Ottawa offense despite feeling the
wrath of fans, who booed him all night in response to his shooting
the puck at Scott Niedermayer in Game 4.

Andy McDonald started the scoring 3:41 into the first period
with a power-play goal, his third tally in two games, and
Rob Niedermayer made it 2-0 with 2:19 left. Travis Moen had two goals,
one that never touched his stick and another in conventional
fashion.

Alfredsson scored twice in the second period, including a
short-handed goal that cut Anaheim's lead to one for a second time,
but the Senators couldn't shake off a fluke goal that defenseman
Chris Phillips put into his own net with a pass off the skates of
goalie Ray Emery.

That one was credited to Moen.

When Francois Beauchemin scored a power-play goal with 1:32 left
in the second, the Ducks' two-goal lead was back and the excited
crowd anticipated an appearance by the Stanley Cup.

By then it was just a matter of time for the Ducks, 8-0 at home
in series-clinching games -- including 4-0 this year. Anaheim is 6-0
at home during the finals.

"They had more depth than us in this series," Alfredsson said.
"We didn't play our best. We tried to come back in the second
period, but that didn't last. It seemed like they were better than
us."

In the middle of the third, the buzzing and quacking crowd
serenaded Emery, called for the now-polished Cup, and bellowed with
delight after each whistle.

The Ducks played five games above the minimum in the postseason
and went past five games only in the Western Conference finals when
they won three straight to wipe out Detroit in six.

Ottawa also had a quick run to the finals, needing only five
games in each previous series. But the Ducks proved too tough with
their hard-hitters and tight checkers shutting down the Senators'
top forward line that was broken up after holding the top three
spots in NHL playoff scoring.

"We had some guys that didn't play to what they were playing,"
said Senators coach Bryan Murray, a former coach and GM of the
Ducks. "I think that's most disappointing and what we and they
have to live with through the summer."

Anaheim is the first West Coast city to lay claim to the silver
chalice since Victoria of the Western Canada Hockey League defeated
Montreal in 1925, two years before NHL clubs began exclusively
playing for the Cup.

"Their perseverance and determination in defeating the Ottawa
Senators is a testament to the greatness of California's
world-class sports teams," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a
statement.

McDonald scored just after the first half of a 5-on-3 penalty
expired, and Rob Niedermayer doubled the lead with a streak down
the right side. He blew past Mike Comrie and backhanded a shot in
off Emery with 2:19 left in the period.

Alfredsson made it 2-1 at 11:27 of the second, but Phillips' big
mistake put the life back in the building. While being chased
behind the net, Phillips pushed a pass as he came out the left
side. The puck went into Emery's skates and found its way in with
4:16 left in the period.

It was shades of Edmonton defenseman Steve Smith, who
short-circuited the Oilers' chances for a "three-peat" in 1986
when he put the puck in off the left skate of Grant Fuhr in the
third period of Game 7 of the Smythe Division finals.

But Alfredsson renewed Ottawa's hope with a short-handed goal
with 2:22 left. The good feeling was soon dashed when Beauchemin
ripped a long shot past Emery 50 seconds later during the same
power play.

Moen made it 5-2 with his second of the game and
Corey Perry
gave the Ducks a four-goal lead with 3 minutes remaining.

Emery never looked comfortable in net, allowing six goals on 18
shots. Jason Spezza scored 34 goals in the regular season, but had
none in the finals.

"I knew if I didn't play better it would be tough for us to
win," Spezza said. "It's extremely disappointing to come this far
and lose."

Game Notes
The Niedermayers are the first brothers since Brent and
Duane Sutter of the Islanders in 1983 to win the Cup as teammates.
... Pronger owns the only successful penalty-shot goal in finals
history. ... Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. sipped beer in the victorious
dressing room.
Emery never looked comfortable in net, allowing six goals on 18 shots.

Game notes
The Niedermayers are the first brothers since Brent and Duane Sutter of the Islanders in 1983 to win the Cup as teammates.