The 2007 Anaheim Mighty Ducks were a franchise that had been knocking on the door. After just two playoff appearances in the nine years since their founding in 1993, the Ducks had reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003 and the Western Conference finals in 2006. It was time to take the final step to greatness.
Anaheim was led by forward Teemu Selanne, who scored 48 goals and dished 46 assists in 2007. Center Andy McDonald had 51 assists, and defenseman Scott Niedermayer would pass for 54 assists of his own. The team was well-balanced, both offensive and defensively, with Jean Sebastien-Giguere in goal. And as the year went on, a pair of 21-year-olds, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaff began making bigger and bigger contributions.
The Ducks went 48-20-14, the second-best in the NHL’s Western Conference. They easily rolled the Minnesota Wild four games to one in the first round of the playoffs. Vancouver was a little tougher test in the second round-the Canucks split the first two games, but then Anaheim began grinding out wins.
Perry had a goal and an assist to lead a 3-2 victory in Game 3. An overtime win in Game 4 by the same score followed. Game 5 went two overtimes, and Anaheim fired 58 shots on goal, but Neidermayer finally broke a 1-1 tie with the goal that clinched the series.
The Detroit Red Wings are not only one of hockey’s great franchises, they were the #1 seed in the West in 2007 and had goaltender Dominic Hasek, a rare recent goalie who won the MVP award back when he was in Buffalo. The Red Wings took the opener 2-1 and were poised to get control of the conference finals.
Game 2 was tied 3-3 and went to overtime and once again it was Niedermayer delivering, lighting the lamp for the victory that tied the series. Detroit immediately got one back out west when they chased Sebastien-Giguere with a 5-0 rout.
Anaheim turned to its kids to get the series turned back around. Perry scored a minute and a half into Game 4 and started a three-goal barrage in the first period. Detroit crawled back to tie the game at 3-3, but Getzlaff scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Ducks ultimately prevailed 5-3.
Detroit led the fifth game 1-0 as the third period wound down. Once again, Niedermayer came up with a huge goal, tying the game with 48 seconds left and Selanne scored the game-winner in overtime. Anaheim came out firing in Game 6, going ahead quickly at 3-0, leading 4-1 in the third period and holding off a Red Wings’ charge in the final ten minutes to win 4-3. The Ducks were back in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Ottawa was the opponent, and Anaheim used defense to get early control of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. In spite of trailing Game 1 by a 2-1 count, the Ducks got a couple power play goals in the third period to win 3-2. Then they limited the Senators to just 16 shots in a 1-0 victory in Game 2.
After losing Game 3, the Anaheim defense had them in position to win Game 4, leading 2-1 deep into the third period. With two minutes to go, it was Ottawa getting the big goal to force overtime. The Ducks were bailed out in OT by Dustin Penner and were now within one game of hoisting the Cup.
Anaheim continued to show they knew how to close. Just as had been the case against Detroit, the Ducks came out firing in a clinching situation and scored twice in the first period, en route to a 6-2 win and the night in front of the home fans proved to be one long coronation party.
Niedermayer only scored three goals for the entire postseason, but the impact of those goals was enough to win him the Conn Smythe Award, as playoff MVP. Sebastian-Giguere, who had won the award in defeat in 2003, had a dazzling 1.97 goals-against average in the playoffs and this time got the trophy he really wanted.
For the first time in history (later duplicated by the Los Angeles Kings in 2012), the Stanley Cup had come to SoCal.