Anaheim Ducks: Counting Down the 30 Greatest Moments (10-6)

With the Anaheim Ducks celebrating their 30th anniversary this season, now is the perfect time to look back. In the last 30 years, the Ducks have made history — from the Disney days to winning the first Stanley Cup in California and the decade of contention that followed – and there is no shortage of moments that have amazed fans and propelled the franchise to new heights.

This is the fifth installment of the countdown. Previous entries can be found here:

10. Corey Perry’s Hat Trick to 50

The 2010-11 season was challenging for the Ducks. Scott Niedermayer retired, and new captain Ryan Getzlaf missed 15 games due to injury. Jonas Hiller was likely the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy when a head injury during the All-Star Game derailed his season and, ultimately, his career. Among all the potential turmoil, Corey Perry delivered one of the greatest seasons in Ducks history.

Perry was already a darling among Ducks fans as part of the “kid line” with Getzlaf and Dustin Penner during their 2007 Stanley Cup run. He had also been a frequent contributor to the scoresheet, netting 60 goals and 89 assists over the prior two years. Nothing could have prepared Ducks fans for his 2010-11 season, when he scored 47 goals through the team’s first 79 games.

Corey Perry Ducks
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks, Oct. 24, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Anaheim hadn’t had a 50-goal scorer since Teemu Selanne in 1998, and he and Paul Kariya were the only two to ever score 50 in franchise history. To join the group, Perry had to average a goal per game over the last three games. As it turns out, he only needed the first half of the first game. Perry recorded a hat trick in the first 30 minutes against the San Jose Sharks, fittingly scoring his 50th goal of the year off a direct pass from Selanne.

Perry was the league’s only 50-goal scorer in 2011, making him the second Duck only to Selanne to win the Rocket Richard. He also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP and, to this day, is the only Duck to win the award.

9. The Niedermayers Beat Roberto Luongo

The Vancouver Canucks posed the biggest threat to Anaheim winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. They weren’t the most complete team, but they had goaltender Roberto Luongo coming off a runner-up Vezina and Hart season, as well as a .950 save percentage in the first round of the playoffs. After losing home ice in Game 2, the Ducks rallied to take a 3-2 series lead after a pair of 3-2 victories in Vancouver. Like many great moments in Ducks playoff history, Game 5 would take multiple overtimes.

Beyond how this game ends, this was one of the strangest playoff games in recent history. Luongo didn’t take the ice to start the first overtime period, and it wouldn’t come out until years later that it was a restroom issue as opposed to any sort of equipment issue. Luongo did return to the ice after about four minutes. The Ducks’ social team had some fun, including this incident during their “Great Moments in Ducks History Recreated Poorly” series.

In the early stages of the second overtime period and with the puck in the Ducks’ offensive zone, Canucks winger Jannick Hansen attempted to carry the puck out of the zone. He failed to avoid Rob Niedermayer, and the puck was dislodged by a huge hit along the boards. While most of the arena was still reacting to the hit, the puck trickled to Scott Niedermayer at the blue line, and he quickly snapped it over Luongo’s shoulder and into the net.

When Scott signed with his brother Rob to play together in Anaheim, it’s hard to imagine they came up with a script that had the two practically combining to end a playoff series. But that’s essentially what happened, and Scott wasn’t done scoring impact goals in elimination games. We’ll go further into his heroics during the following round in the next part of the countdown.

8. The Selanne & Giguere Victory Lap

After going back and forth on the subject for years, Teemu Selanne knew that 2014 would be his final year in the NHL. While it’s sad to see a franchise icon hang up their skates forever, he was in his early 40s, and there was a lot less flash in the Finn’s game. His regular season career wrapped up in Anaheim against the Colorado Avalanche.

In the first tear-jerking moment, the arena announced Selanne as all three stars of the night. After he was done handing out sticks to the fans, he took a slow lap, followed by a handshake line with most of the Avalanche players. The second tear-jerking moment is when he skates to the Avalanche bench to grab an old friend. Jean-Sebastian Giguere was playing for Colorado and wrapping up his career after the season. Selanne and Giguere embraced and took a victory lap with each other.

Selanne and Giguere are two of the most important figures in Ducks’ history. That tandem was responsible for 457 goals, 11,290 saves, 13 hat tricks, 32 shutouts, a Rocket Richard Trophy, and a Conn Smythe Trophy, and both of their names are etched onto the Stanley Cup.

7. Ducks Advance to First Stanley Cup Final

The 2003 Ducks’ run to the Cup Final is often characterized as a Cinderella story — a scrappy underdog defying the odds and clawing for every inch that’s given. For the most part, this is applicable. Their first-round win was so significant that I’m sparing the details here because it’s also the No. 6 moment on the countdown. Their follow-up act had them take on the President’s Trophy-winning Dallas Stars. The Ducks played the role of Cinderella in each of those series. But Cinderella was ready to deliver a beatdown by the Conference Final, and the Minnesota Wild answered the call.

The Wild weren’t a bad team, but it was a surprise to see them advance to the Conference Final. They eliminated the Avalanche, a perennial favorite of the era, in seven games before delivering a second seven-game upset to the Canucks. With Marian Gaborik’s team-leading 65 points during the regular season, the game plan was to keep the contests low-scoring and rely on goaltending. Anaheim’s man in net just happened to be on an all-time heater.

Giguere was a man-possessed in Anaheim’s first two rounds. In those series, he stopped a combined 354-of-373 shots for a .950 save percentage. He had 60-plus save efforts in each round. The Wild did not have the same firepower the Red Wings and Stars possessed, and the series was over quickly. The Ducks would go on to sweep the series, holding the Wild to a single goal in the four games. For the first time in franchise history, the Anaheim Ducks were advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

6. “Hockeytown is now Golf Town”

Winning will always be satisfying, but there’s something about winning as an underdog. There’s a sense of catharsis when “no one believes in you” turns into a gleeful “I told you so.” The Ducks were faced with such a moment in the first round of the 2003 playoffs. The Red Wings were just about the best team of the early dead-puck era. An Original Six franchise, they were the defending Stanley Cup champions, their third in the previous six seasons. This was their 13th straight year in the playoffs, a mark of consistency that would eventually reach 25 years. In their 10 seasons as a franchise, the Ducks had made the postseason twice, getting swept both times by these Red Wings.

Game 1 took three overtime periods, but Kariya scored off a rebound for the 2-1 victory, Anaheim’s first in nine postseason games against Detroit. If that stunned the crowd in Joe Louis Arena, then the Ducks scoring two unanswered in the third period to win Game 2 would have left them dumbfounded. The Ducks left Detroit with a 2-0 series lead and had the chance to close out the series in Anaheim. A 2-1 victory in Game 3 made that reality much closer.

Game 4 would require overtime after Sergei Federov kept Detroit’s season alive with a tying goal with less than three minutes to play. About seven minutes into the overtime period, the Ducks gained entry into the offensive zone, and Steve Rucchin turned a shot on goal that created some chaos. Keith Carney came up with possession and sent it back to Rucchin after he got into a shooting lane. He buried it past Curtis Joseph, and the Ducks completed one of the most unlikely upsets in NHL history. Announcer Dave Randorf rubs it into the Detroit market by making the call, “Hockeytown is now Golftown. Hello, Anaheim!”

While the Ducks have gone on to win plenty more meaningful series, their first-round win against the Red Wings in 2003 remains one of the most cathartic. Our next installment will cover the top five moments in Ducks history. These are the big ones. Come back and find out how they rank.

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