Ducks have mighty good shot at Cup now

Posted: June 05, 2007

OTTAWA - Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer didn't have a lot to say about Daniel Alfredsson or about how Alfredsson fired a puck at him at the end of the second period.

And why should he?

With a commanding lead in the Stanley Cup finals in his pocket, one win away from another championship, the veteran Ducks captain knew what happened mattered little after a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators last night in Scotiabank Place.

The Ducks lead the series, 3-1, and can win the first Stanley Cup in the franchise's short history, which began in 1993, tomorrow night in Anaheim.

"I don't really have much to say about it," Niedermayer said of Alfredsson's shot at him. "That really has nothing to do with winning a hockey game, and we're here to try to win a hockey game. I think you can imagine how I felt or what I said after it happened. It doesn't do any good to talk about it. I didn't like getting hit with a puck then, but I'm not going to talk about it."

Playing without suspended defenseman Chris Pronger, the Ducks didn't need their physical defenseman to rev things up and raise the emotional level of an already supercharged atmosphere.

They provided some of the fire themselves after a dismal first-period effort, and then had Alfredsson, the Senators' fiery leader, help motivate them by deliberately changing the angle of his stick to fire a slap shot at Niedermayer.

In a game in which Anaheim again took bad penalties early, fell behind 1-0 and got outshot, 13-2, in the opening period, the Ducks stormed back in the second behind the efforts of Andy McDonald. The Anaheim forward scored two second-period goals, his eighth and ninth of the playoffs, and assisted on the game-winner by Dustin Penner, 4 minutes, 7 seconds into the third.

"We really got carried away early in the hockey game and tried too hard," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We did things that were counterproductive for us.

"We played over half of the [first] period on special teams. And they got a goal with 0.5 seconds [left in the first] and it was kind of deflating. But then we got back in the room and talked about a few things and how we could turn it around."

McDonald heard the message, and after clanging a puck off the crossbar to start the comeback period, he netted two.

"Sometimes you don't get those scoring chances, so I was fortunate to get two more scoring chances later in the second," McDonald said. "It's gone pretty well for us. We had a good night tonight and now we just have to keep it going."

With Pronger returning for the next game, the chances are good.

"It's going to be great to have [Pronger] back," McDonald said. "He's such a presence on the ice, not only on the ice but in the locker room. He really settles everyone down and make sure everyone is focused."

The Senators seemed like they were going to ride the emotion of the first period but came out and could not answer the Anaheim attack in the second period.

"We didn't take advantage [of the lead] and they made a little adjustment in the second and we started forcing the play,'' Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. "Other than that, there was no reason to play the way we did in the second period.

"We played a little harder in the third, but we got down and they got two-on-one chances. Guys that don't normally try to make the plays they tried to make tonight got caught."

Despite missing Pronger, suspended because of his shot to the head of Dean McAmmond in Game 3, Anaheim didn't change its game at all. The Ducks took the body every chance they could. But, as it has throughout the playoffs, it cost them early.

Ottawa had early back-to-back power plays in the first period; by the time the Ducks were at even strength again, the shots were 8-0 in favor of the Senators.

Anaheim had one chance with the man advantage but couldn't get a shot through to Ray Emery as Ottawa swallowed every attack.

Anaheim finally got its first shot with 8:43 left in the period.

Late in the period, Ryan Getzlaf ran Emery and went off for goal-tender interference. As the seconds ticked off, Alfredsson finally got a puck past Jean-Sebastien Giguere, one-timing a pass from behind from Mike Fisher and catching the inside of the post with less than a second to play.

Midway through the second, McDonald scored his two goals exactly a minute apart, giving Anaheim the lead in a period in which the Ducks reversed the action, outshooting Ottawa, 13-4.

But Dany Heatley tied the game with 2 minutes left in the second, and as the period ended, Alfredsson fired a slap shot that hit Neidermayer in the upper body. A shoving match followed, and Alfredsson left the ice to chants of "Al-fie, Al-fie, Al-fie."

Alfredsson insisted he wasn't trying to hit Niedermayer.

"I looked up at the clock and there was like 6 seconds left, I think,'' he said. "And I'm thinking, 'I'm going to get a shot in on net.' I go wide and I get the puck between my feet and I get rid of it. He was there but it probably looked worse than it was.''

There were no penalties called; that is sure to be a source of controversy today.

Anaheim retook the lead on the goal by Penner, assisted by Teemu Selanne and McDonald. Anaheim made the score stand, controlling play and winning faceoffs as the Ducks did for most of the night.

Now Ottawa must find a way to rally or its season likely will come to a halt tomorrow night.

"If we play the way we played for two periods, the chances are not very good,'' Murray said. "If we play like we did in the first, we have a chance."

Anaheim knows what's at stake, Carlyle said.

"We're going to have to play the best game we have played all year to win that one," he said. "We know that. It's a fact." *

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