Ducks: Revisiting Selanne’s Game 5 Winner of 2007 West Final

The short yet accomplished playoff history of the Anaheim Ducks includes a fair share of pivotal Game 5s. We all know the superlatives surrounding Game 5: it’s the most important game; if you win this one, then you’re probably winning the series, and so on. In fact, the Ducks have won many of them only to disappointingly lose multiple series in seven games. They’ve done so against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round in 2013, against the Los Angeles Kings in the second round in 2014, against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third round in 2015, and against the Nashville Predators in the first round in 2016. To make matters worse, each Game 5 win and Game 7 loss in those matchups was on home ice.

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However, before all of those disappointments, there was the 2007 Western Conference Final. The Ducks defeated the Red Wings in Game 5 in overtime before closing them out in Game 6, securing a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in team history. Teemu Selanne’s goal in the extra session still stands as one of the significant moments in franchise history. In the spirit of pivotal, high-stakes battles in the Western Conference Final, let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit the Finnish Flash’s overtime winner.

The Stage was Set for an Epic Clash in Game 5

The Ducks and Red Wings entered the game with two wins apiece in the series. Three of the four games were tight-checking, close, and intense. Each game was physical, skillful, and tactical. These were the top two teams in the Western Conference, and objectively two of the NHL’s best teams all season long. This matchup had Hall-of-Fame talent on both sides. The Ducks featured the likes of Selanne, Chris Pronger, and Scott Niedermayer, while the Red Wings countered with Niklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Dominik Hasek, Brian Rafalski, and Chris Chelios. Young talent was likewise littered about the ice, with guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Dustin Penner, Johan Franzén, and Val Filppula all making impacts in the series. One of the previous games was settled in overtime. Mike Babcock, who coached the Ducks during their first run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003, manned the Red Wings’ bench.

Teemu Selanne Ducks
Teemu Selanne (James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE)

Oh, and did I forget to mention that this game was Pronger’s first one back after serving a one-game suspension for (illegally) laying the hammer on Tomas Holmström? Needless to say, Game 5 was set up to be an instant classic.

Late-Game Heroics Get the Ducks to Overtime

Long story short, the Red Wings outplayed the Ducks for 58 minutes of the game. Jean-Sébastien Giguère was the only reason it remained close. He did as clutch goaltenders do; they give you a chance to win even when the guys in front of them don’t have their best stuff. With just a single long-range shot by Andreas Lilja getting past him that night, Giguère remained composed and kept it close long enough for the Ducks to capitalize on a man advantage and tie it late.

Related: Top 5 Teemu Selanne Moments With Ducks

In a last-ditch, 6-on-4 situation, Selanne made his first of two game-changing plays by sliding the puck to Niedermayer in the slot, whose shot found a way past Hasek with just 47 seconds left. What a moment. The highest stakes possible. The six best Ducks against the four best Red Wings with the game on the line and the series in the balance, and they tied it up. Bring on overtime.

Andy McDonald Forces a Mistake and Selanne Cashes In

In one of the most egregious turnovers you’ll see in a playoff game, Lilja, the Red Wings’ lone scorer on the night, brought the puck from behind the net thinking he had a step on the forechecking Selanne. But before he knew it, Andy McDonald closed in on him from the top and forced a mishandle. The puck laid there for Selanne in the low slot, who took a few strides then went forehand, backhand, top shelf. Game, set, match.

It was vintage Selanne. He utilized an excellent fake and soft hands to beat Hasek, who hopelessly and unsuccessfully sprawled in an effort to stop the puck. Fewer players were better than Selanne at making plays in open space. The Ducks never looked back after that. They would eliminate the Red Wings a few nights later with a 4-3 victory in Game 6.

Selanne Plays Hero and Delivers A Memory

This game and the broader matchup were memorable for so many reasons. The talent, the nastiness, and the rivalry (at the time, this was their fourth meeting in the playoffs) were so much fun to watch. In those days, it was said that all roads to the Final were through Detroit. It was true. In 2003, the Ducks swept the Red Wings on their way to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. To do it again on the way to their 2007 championship victory, it sure was sweet.

Most importantly, what a moment for Selanne. While the franchise icon already gave the organization a highlight reel of captivating plays, on this night he delivered his best yet: a goal that will forever live in Ducks’ playoff lore.

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