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Goalie J.S. Giguere is ace in the hole as Ducks try to eliminate Wings

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Goalie J.S. Giguere is ace in the hole as Ducks try to eliminate Wings

The Canadian Press
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The Detroit Red Wings have held most of the cards in the last two games of the NHL Western Conference final, outshooting Anaheim 76-49 and outplaying them for most of Sunday's Game 5, which Anaheim won 2-1 in overtime.

But Giguere hasn't flinched. He's made brilliant saves and helped Anaheim take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

With his team one win away from playing in the Stanley Cup final for the second time in four seasons, Giguere figures it's time to raise the ante and go for broke in Tuesday's Game 6 (9 p.m. ET).

"You've got to put your chips on the table and believe in the cards you have been dealt," Giguere said after the Ducks' practice Monday. "I think in this dressing room we have a great team. We believe in each other and believe in the system.

"At this point in time it would be a shame not to go all in. You've got to believe your cards are better than the other guy's cards."

The Ducks know eliminating the Red Wings won't be easy. Detroit trailed San Jose 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinal - and were down 2-0 at one point in Game 4 - before they rallied to win the series.

The Red Wings also have some history on their side. The last time Detroit won the Cup in 2002 they trailed Colorado 3-2 in the Western Conference final.

"We've done it before," said Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom, who has five goals in the playoffs. "We have to win this game. We have to keep playing the same way we've been playing."

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said there was no sense of desperation in the Wings locker room.

"The mood is we've got to win," he said. "We've got a pretty confident, determined group.

"It would be a totally different thing if I was in my locker room and we'd been outplayed three games in a row. The way I see things, our club has had every opportunity and we just have to keep driving."

Anaheim defenceman Chris Pronger wants to end the series sooner rather than later.

"They've got their backs against the wall," said Pronger, who played Sunday after missing Game 5 with a suspension for a hit on Holmstrom. "It's not going to be easy.

"They are a proud team that feels like they should have won the last two games. We have to come back with a lot better effort and make sure, when you have the opportunity to close a team off, you take advantage of it."

Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi didn't skate with the team Monday. Babcock said the big forward missed the last 10 minutes of Sunday's game with a sore back.

"He was feeling a little better here this morning," said Babcock. "I think he'll be ready tomorrow."

Bertuzzi was traded from Florida to Detroit at the trade deadline. He missed most of the season after undergoing back surgery in November.

Giguere is 8-3 in the playoffs and has a .935 save percentage. Of the goaltenders still playing, only Detroit's Dominik Hasek's goals-against average of 1.67 tops Giguere's 1.78.

In the pressure cooker of playoff overtime Giguere has been cool and confident. He's 4-1 in overtime games this year and has a 12-1 career record on post-season overtimes.

When the game is on the line, defenceman Sean O'Donnell likes the Ducks odds with Giguere in net.

"There are certain players, when the stakes go up, they either get nervous or they enjoy it and kind of revel in it," said O'Donnell. "Jiggy seems like a player that once OT comes along he gets real comfortable."

Even when the Ducks have been bad, like they were for 59 minutes of Sunday's game, Giguere has been great. He didn't give an inch to Holmstrom and slammed the door on eight of Johan Franzen's shots.

"Some nights he's required to be more of an outstanding individual than other nights," said coach Randy Carlyle. "I think the whole thing about him is that he hasn't made too many mistakes.

"We've given up some prime chances where he's been in position. What we haven't done is given up that second or third chance."

Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Ducks lost the 2003 Cup final to New Jersey in seven games. Pronger said Giguere should be in the running for the trophy again if the Ducks advance to the final.

"He's making saves when we need him to makes saves," said Pronger. "He's certainly been our MVP, that's for sure."

Holmstrom said Detroit needs to work harder to get second and third chances on Giguere.

"We need more traffic," said Holmstrom. "He sees the puck. We have to get to the rebounds."

Babcock laughed when asked if Giguere was getting into his scorers' heads.

"I don't think our guys see it that way at all," he said.

Giguere, who turned 30 last week, missed the last three regular-season games and the first three games of the Ducks opening-round series against Minnesota after his wife Kristen gave birth to their son Maxime Olivier on April 4. The child was born with a deformed right eye.

There was a fear the infant could be completely blind but Giguere said the left eye is healthy.

"He's as healthy as he can be," Giguere said with a smile. "His eye is going to be a little bit of a challenge for him for life."

Watching his young son struggle helped establish some priorities for Giguere.

"It puts into perspective that losing a hockey game is not that big a deal after all," he said.

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Goalie J.S. Giguere is ace in the hole as Ducks try to eliminate Wings