The Detroit Red Wings were pushed to the brink of elimination on home ice by the Anaheim Ducks.
Dan Cleary came through, though, scoring a tiebreaking goal with 3 minutes left that lifted Detroit to a 4-3 win on Thursday night that sent the defending Stanley Cup champions to the Western Conference finals for the third straight year.
The Ducks (fans) have nothing to be ashamed of. The 8th seeded team wasn’t supposed to have been in the playoffs. During the trade deadline, the Ducks traded away a quarter of the team. Fans and media thought it was a rebuilding time for the Ducks, and figured “let’s try again next season”.
The team proved the fans and media wrong, and came back to clinch the coveted 8th spot of the playoffs. The Ducks took on first seeded San Jose Sharks, who also had the “President’s Trophy” for the most points in the entire league. The Sharks dominated the Ducks with shots on goals, but not in games won. The Ducks took out the Sharks in 6 games.
The Detroit Red Wings were favored to take the 2nd series. In fact, they were supposed to have swept or beat the Ducks in 5 games. The Ducks battled hard and took it to game 7, losing in the last 3 minutes of the game by 1 point.
The “4 to 3” lost was not the first. During the regular season, that final score haunted the team, and it was ironic that final score was the nail that closed the Ducks’ 2008-09 season.
Detroit will play the Chicago Blackhawks.
Carolina Hurricanes will play the Pittsburgh Penguins.