|Ducks Float to 2-0 Lead Over Senators|
|Thursday, 31 May 2007 02:00|
Samuel Pahlsson figured out sharp Senators goalie Ray Emery with 5:44 left in the third period to give the Ducks a 1-0 victory over Ottawa on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.
Pahlsson, a finalist to be the NHL's top defensive forward, joined linemate Travis Moen with game-winning goals in the series. They already mastered the job of shutting down Ottawa's high-flying top line and now are providing the finishing blows against the Eastern Conference champs.
On Saturday, the series will shift to Ottawa for the first time since 1927, and the Senators will have to figure out a way to break out of a scoring funk in the next two games to earn a trip back to Southern California. Teams that won the first two games at home have captured the Cup 29 of 30 times.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 16 shots for his sixth postseason shutout and first this year. He leaped as time ran out and the loud duck call vibrated through a deafening arena.
Emery finished with 30 saves.
After a turnover by Dany Heatley, Pahlsson carried the puck down the right-wing boards, worked around Daniel Alfredsson, and let go a shot past defenseman Joe Corvo who had his back to him. That matched Moen's winning tally that came with 2:51 left Monday night.
After a postseason low of 20 shots in the series opener, the Senators managed less of a punch in Game 2. But what the game lacked in goals, it didn't fall short in exciting, tense play. Whether it was enough to bring viewers to TV sets is another issue. Game 1 on Versus got only a 0.72 cable rating and was seen in 523,000 households in the United States.
Emery was brilliant and had the added bonus of a few quick whistles as he tried to freeze the puck. Senators coach Bryan Murray complained after Game 1 that the Ducks delivered a few extra stick jabs after the whistle and the message was received by referees Bill McCreary and Brad Watson.
Teemu Selanne nearly scored 3 1/2 minutes into the third when he chipped the puck to Emery's right up to the height of the crossbar. The puck fell tantalizingly close to the goal line, but Emery gloved it just in time.
Whether it was panic or progressive thinking, Murray started the game with Alfredsson without his familiar linemates Heatley and Jason Spezza - a trio that combined for 28 goals and 60 points in Ottawa's first 16 playoff games but had only two assists in the 3-2 loss in the finals opener.
The group got back together for the Senators' three power plays in the first period and scattered shifts during the opening two frames. But at even strength, the Senators looked little like the team that scored nine times in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against Buffalo.
When the Ducks put the pressure on early in the third, they did it at the expense of Ottawa's scoring line that struggled to get the puck out of the zone. Their defense was no sharper than the offense the Senators desperately rely on them to provide. They were also were on the ice for the winning goal for the second straight game.
Of the Senators' seven shots in the first period, five came on the power play and another found its way to Giguere just after an Anaheim penalty expired. Ottawa mustered little more in the second when the sides played 5-on-5 until the final 2 minutes of the period when they traded penalties.
The Ducks sent 12 shots at Emery in the first and 14 more in the second, while holding Ottawa to 11 through 40 minutes.
Emery shook off any rust or nerves that troubled him in the series opener and turned it into confidence that seemed to grow with every dangerous scoring chance the Ducks generated near his crease.
He sprawled on his back, flopped on his stomach and flashed a quick glove to snare shots that whistled toward him. Emery faced additional trouble as the Senators tried to exert a physical style to match the Ducks' hard-hitters.
While the heavy checks landed, Ottawa also adopted another characteristic of the aggressive Ducks - the penchant for taking undisciplined penalties. Mike Comrie started the trend 2:17 in by sending defenseman Francois Beauchemin into the boards. Anton Volchenkov chipped in with another boarding penalty, when he drove Corey Perry into the glass behind Emery 6 minutes later.
Perry drew another penalty, this time on Mike Fisher. Perry was decked by Fisher near the slot, and was shoved down again once he got to his skates.
Not to be outdone, the Ducks gave the Senators life by getting Ottawa's potent power play on the ice. Charging and slashing calls against Shawn Thornton and Chris Pronger created a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:08 of the first period.
As they did in Game 1 during another two-man advantage, the Ducks kept the Senators at bay.
Giguere was the best penalty killer of the bunch, stopping three straight whacks by Spezza into his pads at the left post. He also frustrated the rest of the Senators with his share of sparkling stops after passes by Spezza.
Notes: Senators RW Patrick Eaves was replaced in the lineup by Oleg Saprykin. Eaves missed seven games earlier in the playoffs following a head injury, then sat four more before returning for two. ... The teams played 5-on-5 in the first period for only 9 minutes. ... Alfredsson saw time on a shift with Fisher and Peter Schaefer. Chris Neil moved up to play with Spezza and Heatley. ... The rest of the series will be televised by NBC in the U.S.
by: Gary Roberts - theSpread.com - Email Us
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