|Senators' longest spring gives way to long summer|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 June 2007 16:04|
For The Associated Press|
OTTAWA (AP) -Every hockey player dreams of scoring a Stanley Cup-winning goal. Chris Phillips will have nightmares about his.
The veteran Ottawa defenseman accidentally put the puck in his own net in Anaheim's 6-2 win over the Senators on Wednesday night for the Ducks' first Cup-clinching goal.
However, Phillips wasn't credited for the goal. Travis Moen was officially credited with Anaheim's third goal in Game 5 as the last Ducks player to have touched the puck on that play.
``It's really disappointing,'' Phillips said. ``To come this far and be that close makes it even harder, and to see the Stanley Cup on the ice and see them celebrating, it's tough.''
With Presidents' Trophy winners Buffalo widely favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup finals, Ottawa quietly made its 10th straight playoff appearance.
Seeded fourth in the East, the Senators knocked off No. 5 Pittsburgh and second-seeded New Jersey before ousting the top-seeded Sabres to reach their first Stanley Cup final since the expansion franchise brought the NHL back to the Canadian capital in 1992.
Daniel Alfredsson scored the overtime series clincher in Buffalo to become the first European captain to lead his team to the finals as Ottawa cruised through the first three rounds with a 12-3 record, each series lasting five games.
Senators GM John Muckler, with five Stanley Cup rings as part of Edmonton's coaching staff during the Oilers' glory years in the 1980s, knew a tougher challenge awaited his team in facing Anaheim.
``I think our club will play better than it's playing right now,'' Muckler said the day after the Senators' conference-clinching win. ``It's playing really well right now but I think we have to come up another level. We've shown that we're capable of doing that.''
Muckler was right about the need to reach a higher level in another five-game series, one that didn't go the Senators way.
Ottawa's top line of Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley never got it going in the finals against the Ducks' tough checking line of Moen, Samuel Pahlsson and Rob Niedermayer, and were ultimately broken up and spread over three lines in the deciding game.
Alfredsson scored four goals against Anaheim, including two Wednesday, the second a short-handed goal that got the Senators within 3-2.
Heatley and Spezza, though, were ineffective throughout the finals.
``We had some guys that didn't play to what they were playing,'' Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. ``I think that's most disappointing and what we and they have to live with through the summer.''
After losing the opening two games of the series on the road, the Senators overcame three one-goal deficits to win Game 3 in the first Stanley Cup finals game in Ottawa since 1927, when the original Senators won their 11th championship.
Murray, who is without a contract for next season, had his players in position to even the series but Ottawa proved unable to match Anaheim's determination and skill.
The Ducks came as advertised: big, fast, talented and relentless.
``We knew all those things, but we thought we would have competed and the series would have been longer, at any rate,'' Murray said.
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