The New Jersey Devils have won the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup championship by beating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in seven games. The Devils have joined the Detroit Red Wings as the only clubs to win the Stanley Cup three times since 1995.
The New Jersey Devils came into Monday's game looking to seal their third Stanley Cup title in franchise history after allowing the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to win 5-2 in Anaheim Saturday to even the best-of-seven-games series at three-games apiece.
But the outstanding goaltending of Martin Brodeur and the offense of Jeff Friesen and playoff rookie Mike Rupp proved too much for Anaheim, and the Devils won the deciding game 3-0. Sam Rosen had the call of Rupp's goal, which turned out to be all the scoring the Devils would need.
"Rupp picks it up, back pass, into the right corner, White, back pass, shot blocked by Niedermayer, another shot, Score! Scott Niedermayer took the shot. It was tipped in front. It may be the rookie Mike Rupp with his first career playoff goal. The New Jersey Devils score first," he said in the play-by-play.
And in each of the games in the Stanley Cups finals this year, the team that scored first ended up winning the game. For Mike Rupp, it was his first playoff goal ever. The Devils' center had spent most of this season in the minor leagues, and had only been put in New Jersey's lineup in game four of the series with Anaheim.
But Rupp not only scored the winning goal, he assisted on Jeff Friesen's two other scores. Rupp says he never planned to be the hero, but he is glad to have his name on the Stanley Cup.
"I feel that my line mates helped me out a lot. And two weeks ago I never would have believed that this would happen. So, you know, Coach Burns put me in the situation and he showed he believed in me, and I have been blessed in that situation. And it worked out great," he said.
Jeff Friesen added goals in the second and third periods and helped lead New Jersey to its fourth straight home win over Anaheim and a place in the record books. This series marks the first time since the Montreal Canadiens beat the Chicago Blackhawks in 1965 that the home team had won all seven games of the Stanley Cup Finals. Friesen says the Ducks deserve a lot of respect, but he is grateful to be on the winning team.
"They did a tremendous job this year and they deserve a lot of credit. But I was here with this group of guys and it was a real blessing. And I love it. It was a great feeling," he said.
Devils' goalkeeper Martin Brodeur made 25 saves to earn his third shut out in the finals and a record seventh in the playoffs. But Anaheim goalkeeper Jean-Sebastien Giguere won the Conn Smythe trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the post-season.
He is the first man since 1987 to earn the honor from the losing team. Afterwards, Giguere said that he would much rather have won the Stanley Cup.
"I would give that one [onn Smythe] up to get the other one [he Stanley Cup] You know it would have been much better to get the other one. Saying that," he said. "I have to give credit to my teammates; they worked very hard in front of me. They gave everything they had to give and I would not have gotten that one [the Conn Smythe] without their help, and they were just amazing in front of me and I have to give them credit for that one."
Despite Giguere's heroics, the New Jersey Devils proved to be too much for him and the rest of Anaheim in Game Seven. The Devils won the four games on their home ice by a combined scored of 15-3. New Jersey was also 12-1 in the playoffs to establish an NHL record for home wins in a single playoff season.
The Ducks were an unlikely candidate to win the Cup, but they pulled off huge wins over defending champion Detroit, the Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild to reach their first berth in the Stanley Cup finals. But in the end, New Jersey spoiled the Ducks' fantasy run and became the only Eastern Conference team to win the Cup since 1995.