Claude Lemieux is trying to become the first player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup with four teams. The veteran forward already has helped deliver hockey’s ultimate prize to the Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche, winning twice with the Devils.
So it was with a sense of history that Lemieux, 37, made his series debut Monday night in the Dallas Stars’ 2-1 Game 3 victory over the Mighty Ducks.
The abrasive, gritty winger played less than 10 minutes but made his presence known, drawing a tripping penalty against rookie Stanislav Chistov that led to Jere Lehtinen’s game-winning power-play goal early in the second period.
Lemieux, scratched in the first two games of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series, is expected back in the lineup tonight for his 231st playoff game, which would tie him with Guy Carbonneau for second place on the all-time list, five behind Mark Messier.
Only Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull have scored more game-winning goals in the playoffs.
“We felt like he would be a valuable player in that game because he’s been through those wars,” Coach Dave Tippett said. “He knows what it takes.”
The Ducks lead the series, 2-1, but it was hard to tell that by listening to the Duck players talk heading into tonight’s game.
“This is like a Game 7 for us,” right wing Petr Sykora said. “They have the momentum and we have to take it away. For us, we have to treat it like a Game 7. We can’t go back to Dallas 2-2.”
The Ducks do not have a player among the top 19 scorers in the playoffs. They do have five players with five points -- Adam Oates, Paul Kariya, Rob Niedermayer and Sykora -- and two others with four, Steve Rucchin and Mike Leclerc. Those are the team’s top six forwards.
The Ducks signed Mikael Holmqvist, their first-round draft pick in 1997, on Tuesday. Holmqvist, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound center from Sweden, played the last four years with TPS Turku in Finland’s elite league.