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Anaheim 3, Dallas 2 (OT)

April 26, 2003 at 8:48 PM   |   Comments

DALLAS, April 26 (UPI) -- Mike Leclerc scored 1:44 into overtime Saturday, giving the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars and a stunning two games to none lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.

The Ducks shocked the hockey world in the conference quarterfinals by sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

Following Petr Sykora's goal 48 seconds into the fifth overtime that gave Anaheim a win in Game 1 against the top-seeded Stars on Thursday night, the Ducks remained unbeaten in the playoffs Saturday.

After taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first period in this one, the Ducks were surprised when Brenden Morrow evened the game 1.2 seconds before intermission.

The goal brought new life to the Stars, who took the lead on Mike Modano's tally 8 1/2 minutes into the second and maintained control until a bad bounce late in the third.

Rob Niedermayer's attempted pass with 69 seconds left deflected off the skate of Stu Barnes and past goaltender Marty Turco, knotting the contest and forcing another overtime.

"He tried to pass it across the crease," Barnes said. "I was trying to stop it, but the puck hit my skate and went in. Sometimes bounces go against you in the playoffs."

"It is very frustrating," Dallas Coach Dave Tippett said. "Sometimes, as good as you want to be, the game doesn't let you be good. They get a goal off a skate in the last minute. That's the way it goes."

The Ducks were quick to strike in overtime this time as Leclerc's wrister beat Turco.

"It's great being on the road and coming out with a (two games to none) lead," Leclerc said. "We're not looking at any one guy or line to win the game for us. Everyone is confident that we can get goals from anywhere. In overtime, we know everyone's going to do their job and stick with the game plan."

"It was real important for us to come in here and try to win," Anaheim Coach Mike Babcock said. "I don't know what it is about this group. We just hang around and hang around and we don't go away. You give yourself a chance."

Adam Oates had a goal and the key assist and Sykora set up all three tallies for the Ducks, who host Game 3 on Monday.

"It's been quite a roll, especially getting by Detroit in the first round. And to have a 2-0 lead on Dallas is pretty exciting," Niedermayer said. "(But) it's only 2-0. They were in first place for a reason and you know they are going to come out hard on Monday. They're a veteran team and they will probably just take it in stride and be ready to play again."

"It doesn't mean anything," said Anaheim goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, attempting to downplay the series lead. "The next game is the most important to win. You can't look at what's happened already."

Trailing just five players on the all-time regular-season assists list, Oates picked up undoubtedly the biggest one in Anaheim history in overtime.

Racing to get the puck in the right corner, the 40-year-old Oates managed to knock it away from Morrow and defenseman Darryl Sydor and get it to Leclerc.

With defenseman Philippe Boucher crossing in front of Turco, Leclerc unleashed a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle past the goalie high to the glove side for his first career playoff goal and Anaheim's sixth one-goal victory in the postseason.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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