Don't write off the Stanley Cup champions just yet.
Teemu Selanne scored the winning goal, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 40 saves to help the hometown Anaheim Ducks stave off elimination and earn a hard-fought 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarter-final on Friday.
The Stars still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 goes Sunday night in Dallas. Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for next Tuesday in Anaheim.
Dallas took a 3-1 series lead with a victory on home ice in Game 4 on Thursday night, but the Stars couldn't kill off the Ducks, who played with urgency and determination right from the opening faceoff.
Anaheim is trying to avoid becoming the latest in the long line of Stanley Cup champions to either miss the playoffs or go out in the first round in the season following their championship. The Colorado Avalanche, in 2002, was the last team to advance to the second round after winning the Cup.
Anaheim is also vying to become the first back-to-back Cup champion since Detroit in 1997 and 1998
As for the Stars, they will have another two chances to end their playoff woes. Dallas has not won a first-round series since 2003 when they dispatched the Oilers in Edmonton and proceeded to fall in six games to Anaheim in the West Conference semifinals.
The game began at a fevered pace, with end-to-end action and both the Ducks and Stars skating fast and furiously in an attempt to catch the other off-guard.
Marty Turco came up with some big saves early on, as the Ducks swarmed, but he let in a soft goal midway through the period when Anaheim winger Corey Perry streaked down the wing and beat the Stars goalie through the pads with a quick shot from inside the circle.
Turco more than atoned for that goal a few minutes later when he made one of the best saves of the playoffs thus far. Ducks winger Teemu Selanne was buzzing behind the Dallas net and appeared to score on a quick wraparound, but Turco used his stick to clear the puck just before it crossed the goal-line.
The play went upstairs for review and the video replay confirmed that the entire puck did not cross the line.
That save gave the Stars a boost, and they levelled the score at 18:27 with a shorthanded goal when Mattias Norstrom fired a cross-ice pass from Brad Richards past Giguere.
Dallas went 0-for-5 on the power play through the first period and a half. What a cruel blow then that Anaheim converted the first time it enjoyed the man advantage, as Ryan Getzlaf's shot beat a screened Turco at 11:03 of the middle frame.
The Ducks struck again on the power play, scoring on a two-man advantage a mere 48 seconds into the final period. The Stars struggled to clear the zone and a Ducks' point shot sailed past the post, rebounded off the end boards and the puck landed on the stick of Selanne who scored on a one-timer.
Dallas fought back cut into Anaheim's lead thanks to Mike Ribeiro's goal at 4:41, which beat Giguere at the near-post.
Anaheim re-stored its two-goal lead at 12:05 when the unlikeliest of scorers, Ducks defenceman Sean O'Donnell, slipped a pass from Chris Kunitz by Turco. It was the first goal of the playoffs for O'Donnell, who only scored two goals in 82 regular-season games for Anaheim this season.
Todd Marchant added an empty-net goal with 1:24 left in regulation to seal the win for the Ducks.