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Devils dominant at home again to win Cup

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Never has the Stanley Cup felt more

at home than in the New Jersey swamp.

The Devils, riding the greatest home-ice advantage in NHL

playoffs history and a goal from one of the unlikeliest Game 7

stars ever, ended the Anaheim Mighty Ducks' remarkable postseason

run and won the Cup with a 3-0 victory Monday night.

Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur know this Cup photo ritual well.
Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur know this Cup photo ritual well.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images/NHLI

Mike Rupp, who hadn't appeared in a playoff game until being

called on in Game 4, scored the first goal and set up Jeff Friesen

for the other two. Friesen scored five goals in the series, all at

home.

The Devils swept all four games at home -- all with the second

period proving decisive -- in the first finals since 1965 and only

the third in which the home team won every game. The Ducks rallied

from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to force a Game 7 by winning all three

games in Anaheim.

"It's been a bumpy ride, with a great deal of adversity,''

goalie Martin Brodeur said.

Never has the home-ice edge been more important to a Stanley Cup

winner. The Devils were a record 12-1 at home, allowing only 13

goals. They outscored the Ducks 15-3 in four games in New Jersey,

all decided by three goals.

"We feel really at ease playing in our own building. The only

reason we won the Stanley Cup is because we were so dominant in our

own building,'' said Brodeur, who turned aside 24 shots in his

third shutout of the series, all at home.

The Devils' John Madden credited coach Pat Burns with

establishing the need to win at home.

"It starts with Pat,'' Madden said. "Previously our record at

home was terrible. But he said were going to compete hard and play

hard ... in our building.''

And who says there wasn't a triple crown winner this year?

The Devils, despite lacking the huge payroll and plethora of

stars that Detroit does, won their third Stanley Cup in nine

seasons -- matching the Red Wings for the most since the Edmonton

Oilers won their fifth Cup in 1990.

"This makes up for that bad time against the Colorado

Avalanche,'' said Devils captain Scott Stevens. The Devils would

have had a fourth Cup if they hadn't lost a 3-2 series lead and the

Cup to Colorado in 2001.

Brodeur outdueled Jean-Sebastien Giguere, whose remarkable

goaltending earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable

player in the playoffs. He was only the fifth player to win the

Conn Smythe on the losing team and first since Philadelphia's Ron

Hextall in 1987.

Giguere never smiled as he accepted the MVP trophy to the boos

of the New Jersey fans and the applause of the Devils players,

immediately leaving the ice in tears. He was almost in tears even

before the game ended.

"It's tough to lose like that,'' Giguere said. "It was really

tough to see them (the Devils) cheer. ... Like I said, this is not

the one you want. You want the big silver one.''

Brodeur said Giguere deserved the award and "I got the one I

wanted.''

The Ducks had won only one previous playoff series in their

10-year history, upsetting the defending champion Red Wings and

top-seeded Dallas Stars in consecutive rounds.

In the end, though, the jig was up for Jiggy and a

straight-out-of-Hollywood season for the Ducks, who were trying to

match the World Series champion Anaheim Angels by winning a totally

unexpected championship seven months apart.

By preventing seventh-seeded Anaheim from becoming the

lowest-seeded Stanley Cup winner ever, Rupp -- an unknown name even

to most Devils fans until a few games ago -- wrote his name

alongside finals Game 7 stars such as Henri Richard, Ray Bourque

and Mark Messier.

"I never would have thought this was possible,'' Rupp said. "I

had a funny feeling. By no means did I think I would get a goal,

but I had a good feeling. I was probably as calm as I've been in

any NHL game.''

Rupp hadn't played since early May and was skating only with the

non-active players after practice before being unexpectedly pressed

into the lineup by Burns in Game 5 with center Joe Nieuwendyk out

with an injury. He played well enough to start getting regular

shifts, but neither Rupp nor Burns could have expected this.

"I was training hard, but I never thought I would get thrown

into the Stanley Cup finals,'' said Rupp, who has only five goals

in 26 career NHL regular season games.

After both goalies enjoyed strong first periods, Rupp scored the

pivotal first goal that has proven so important, with the Devils

going 11-0 when they score first.

Only 2:22 into the second period, Scott Niedermayer's shot from

the blue line was deflected by Rupp between Giguere's pads as the

goalie moved to his left. Sensing how important the goal was,

Giguere angrily pushed the puck out of his net.

"The second period has been our downfall here,'' said a

dejected Adam Oates of Anaheim.

Niedermayer assisted on both goals to win his third Cup with the

Devils and deny his brother, Anaheim forward Rob Niedermayer, his

first. Their mother, Carol, had hoped the Ducks would win so both

sons could own the Cup.

"It was tough,'' Scott Niedermayer said. "I told him I wished

he could be with us. He played as well as anybody on the ice.''

Slightly less than 10 minutes after Rupp scored his first

playoff goal in only his fourth playoff game, he gathered

Niedermayer's rebound and tipped it to Friesen, who scored his

fourth goal of the series but first since Game 2.

Friesen had three goals as the Devils won each of the first two

games 3-0 against the Ducks, who were coming off a record 10-day

layoff following their conference finals sweep of Minnesota.

Stevens, who as the captain was the first to skate with the Cup,

handed it to Niedermayer, no doubt aware how difficult it was for

the brothers to compete against each other for the same cherished

prize.

One goal might have been enough for Brodeur on this night, two

probably seemed like 20 goals to Brodeur, who has now won an

Olympic gold medal and a Stanley Cup in consecutive years.

Brodeur's big-game experience meant all the difference as he became

one of five Devils to win three Cups with the team.

"It's not over for us,'' Brodeur said. "We're going to try to

build on this. ... But right now, it's not time to call us a

dynasty.''

Game notes

D Ken Daneyko, who had played in every playoff game in team

history until last month, was scratched for the finals until Game

7. Burns made sure he was on the ice at the end of the game. ...

The Devils won their three Cups with different coaches: Jacques

Lemaire (1995), Larry Robinson (2000) and Burns, but only one

general manager, Lou Lamoriello. ... The Devils are the first team

to win the Cup with a losing road record (4-7) since the 1974

Flyers. ... Home teams are 10-2 and have won the last four finals

Game 7s. It was the Devils' second Game 7 in three years; they lost

at Colorado 3-1 in 2001. ... Of the 11 teams to lose in their first

appearance in the finals, Anaheim was the first to take it to seven

games. ... The last team to win a finals Game 7 on the road was

Montreal in Chicago in 1971, also the last time a team lost the

first two games on the road and won the Stanley Cup. ... Among the

first to skate with the Cup was the injured Nieuwendyk, who sat out

the series with a torn abdominal muscle.