Anaheim Takes Game 1
When a bouncing puck found Travis Moen in the slot, he was every bit as dangerous as Teemu Selanne, instead of the checker he's paid to be.
Moen's fifth of the playoffs came after Ryan Getzlaf's tying goal 11:25 earlier erased the 2-1 lead Ottawa carried into the third period.
Rob Niedermayer kept the play alive with a sweeping move behind the net, then nudged the puck in his checking linemate's direction.
``It was kind of bouncing and I got lucky,'' Moen said. ``I caught it on the way down, got a lucky shot and it went in. It was huge.
``I think every kid dreams of scoring a goal to win a game in the Stanley Cup final.''
The 36-year-old Selanne, playing in the finals for the first time in his 14-year career, was goalless. He led the Ducks this season with 48 goals and 94 points.
In the first matchup of the teams this season, Moen, along with Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson, held Ottawa's top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley to two assists and handed the Senators their first series-opening loss in these playoffs.
Mike Fisher staked Ottawa to a 1-0 lead in the first period with a power-play goal on the Senators' first shot, and defenseman Wade Redden also scored on the man advantage in the second.
Andy McDonald netted a goal in the first for the Ducks, who will look to take a 2-0 lead at home on Wednesday night.
The Senators appeared ready to win their first Stanley Cup finals game since the franchise was reborn in 1992, but the Ducks fought back and stole it away. Ottawa lost only one game in each of its other three playoff series and now faces its first deficit.
``I thought we came out pretty good the first 10 minutes,'' Heatley said. ``After a layoff, you can't duplicate game situations. I don't think we're using it as an excuse, I just don't think we played up to our capabilities.''
Ottawa went without a shot from the 5:36 mark of the first until the end of the period and finished with three.
``It's not so much what they did, it's what we didn't do as a line,'' Spezza said. ``We didn't have as much jump.''
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 18 saves overall to improve to 10-3 in the playoffs. Getzlaf's goal put the Ducks in a great position: Anaheim is 13-0 in the playoffs when scoring at least twice.
Then Moen put them right where they want to be - ahead in the finals.
As thrilled as the sellout crowd was in the arena, it was nowhere near the excitement back in Saskatchewan, where his family and friends camped out in front of the TV to see him play.
``I know my mom had 15, 20 people over watching,'' he said.
Even after grabbing an early lead, Ottawa goalie Ray Emery and the rest of the Senators showed a bit of rust in the first period following an eight-day layoff.
After leaving juicy rebounds and looking a bit unsteady in his crease, Emery bounced back in the second period, stopping all 10 Anaheim shots, including one he grabbed out of the air as it threatened to bound past him.
Redden broke a 1-1 tie in the middle frame, making up for losing the puck in the opening period that led to McDonald's tying goal.
It was nearly enough to give the Senators a win in their first venture out of the Eastern time zone since March. Ottawa fell to 7-2 on the road in the playoffs.
``We didn't get the puck on them. We didn't have the jump. It's not easy when you have that many days off,'' Spezza said. ``We didn't give our best effort and still had a chance to win. We were in it right to the end and it says a lot about our team.''
The Ducks, off five days since eliminating Detroit, seemed to take control after McDonald tied it, but gave back the momentum to the Senators by taking penalties. That is a common theme for Anaheim, the NHL's most-penalized team during the regular season at 17.8 minutes a game.
It could've been even worse for the Ducks in the second period, but they were able to kill off a 5-on-3 disadvantage that lasted 1:35 - and nearly scored a goal that would've haunted Emery.
With the seconds dwindling on the power play, Emery came far out of his net to save time and fired the puck up ice. The pass was intercepted by Getzlaf outside the blue line, but his quick attempt at a strange empty-net goal went wide.
Not only did Moen, Niedermayer and Pahlsson keep Ottawa scoreless during even-strength play, the unit also got 12 shots on goal.
``Five-on-five we played well,'' Moen said, ``the way we wanted to: physical. They got two power-play goals on us and we have to shore that up.''
Alfredsson and Spezza, ranked second and third in postseason scoring, teamed to set up Redden's third of the playoffs. Alfredsson had scored a goal in five straight road games, and Spezza had multiple points in six consecutive away from Ottawa, but both streaks were snapped.
The lone bright spot was the Senators' power play broke out of an 0-for-16 slump that spanned the final three games of the Eastern Conference finals against Buffalo.
Emery almost pulled this one out, too. He was left to catch his breath following an acrobatic glove save in the second period, taking a moment to kneel in the crease with his back to the ice and his head gazing upward.
That period played out at such a frantic up-and-down pace that there were no whistles for a span of 6:47 - showcasing exactly the action the NHL wanted when rules were changed following the 2004-05 lockout. The Ducks turned it up in the third with 14 shots.
As has been Ottawa's style throughout the opening period of series in this year's playoffs, the Senators grabbed an early lead. While Fisher's power-play goal gave them the edge and some jump, Anaheim's hard-hitters took it away.
``I thought we were physical, and as the game went on, we wore their defense down a little bit,'' McDonald said.
The best lick of the period came from seldom-used Ducks forward Drew Miller, who rammed Redden along the boards to the right of Emery. Redden fell to the ice and coughed up the puck to Teemu Selanne, who fed it into the slot to McDonald for a snap shot past Emery's glove to tie it at 10:55.
While Ducks teammates Scott and Rob Niedermayer grabbed most of the brotherly headlines in Anaheim, Miller exacted a little revenge for his sibling Ryan, the Buffalo Sabres' top goalie who was eliminated by the Senators a round earlier and was in attendance Monday.
Miller spent all season in the AHL and got only 2:15 of ice time in the playoffs before being scratched the previous 11 games. He made the most of his second shift Monday and was rewarded with four more in the second half of the period.
It was the first time in series-opening first periods that the Senators didn't grab a multi-goal lead.
Notes: The Senators hadn't played in the Pacific time zone since Dec. 9, 2005, at Vancouver. ... Ottawa had been 8-0 when scoring first. ... California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... Anaheim won 4-3 in a shootout on Jan. 19, 2006, the last time the teams met.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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