ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Anaheim Ducks aren’t called mighty anymore. Now they can simply answer to Stanley Cup champions.
The 14-year-old Ducks captured their first NHL title with a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, ending the series in five games in front of the home folks again.
For the first time, the Stanley Cup resides in California and at the expense of Canada, which hasn’t boasted a winner since Montreal in 1993. Calgary, Edmonton and now Ottawa each had a chance the past three seasons only to be done in by a U.S. club from the sun belt.
Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer won the Cup for the fourth time, and brought his brother Rob and teammates Teemu Selanne and Chris Pronger along for the ride for their first, and finally earning the MVP award many thought he deserved four years ago. His biggest thrill came when he handed the Cup off to Rob, one of the reasons he left New Jersey for Anaheim before last season.
“That was something I’ll never forget,” Scott said. “You can’t even dream that stuff. It doesn’t get any better.”
Selanne, who led the Ducks in scoring, waited 14 seasons to become a champion. Pronger was on Edmonton last season when the Oilers lost in seven games to Carolina. He returned to the lineup for the clincher after serving a one-game suspension. A perfect finish after demanding a trade from Edmonton last summer.
Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson, the first European captain in finals history, came up short of his first championship in 11 seasons. He supplied all the Ottawa offense despite feeling the wrath of fans, who booed him all night in response to his shooting the puck at Scott Niedermayer in Game 4.
Andy McDonald started the scoring 3:41 into the first period with a power-play goal, his third tally in two games, and Rob Niedermayer made it 2-0 with 2:19 left in the frame. Travis Moen had two goals, one that never touched his stick and another in conventional fashion.
Alfredsson scored twice in the second period, including a short-handed goal that cut Anaheim’s lead to one for a second time, but the Senators couldn’t shake off a fluke goal that defenseman Chris Phillips put into his own net with a pass off the skates of goalie Ray Emery. That one was credited to Moen.
When Francois Beauchemin scored a power-play goal with 1:32 left in the second, the Ducks’ two-goal lead was back and the excited crowd anticipated an appearance by the Stanley Cup that sat in a crate offstage.