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Jun-03-2007 08:06

Stanley Cup: Senators Have a Night to Remember

”The crowd helped us out, no question,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said.

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KANATA, Ont. - Stanley Cup Final hockey returned to Canada’s capital for the first time in 80 years Saturday night and it proved to be a night to remember for the Ottawa Senators.

Buoyed by enormous support from the sellout crowd at Scotiabank Place, the Senators cut the Anaheim Ducks’ series lead to 2-1 with an exciting, bizarre and nasty 5-3 victory in Game 3.

”The crowd helped us out, no question,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “We got a lot of more shifts in there than we had previously. Like we've talked about, that's the way we're going to create some chances. It's nice to do that.”

The Senators received scoring from throughout their lineup as Chris Neil, Mike Fisher, Alfredsson, Dean McAmmond and Anton Volchenkov scored for Ottawa, which fought back from three one-goal deficits to get what was a virtual “must” win to stay alive in this series.

”Every line played real well today,” Alfredsson said. “I think as a team we needed to have a good effort and we got some big shifts from Fisher's line, Kelly's line with Neil and those guys. Cycling the puck; got a goal. If you do that, you'll be successful, no question. It was nice to see.”

It was certainly pleasing from the vantage point of Ottawa coach Bryan Murray.

”We hung in and we hung in and we played well,” Murray said. ”This group got beaten up a little early in the year. We've said that many times. They've gotten beaten up in some individual games. We've hung in, hung in, played well. Obviously, it's only one game. But I really like the way we responded.

“We got the power-play goal and from there we did a real good job of taking off and playing disciplined for the most part and getting some goals that we needed.

”We want to get back to Anaheim where we can compete for the series lead.”

That will require a victory in Monday night’s Game 4 (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), but Murray was obviously much more optimistic about things now that his team had taken the measure of Anaheim goalie J.S. Giguere and came away with five goals.

Giguere was far from the culprit for the Anaheim defeat, but he had been building an air of invincibility in the first two games. Now, the Senators know they can score.

“They outworked us, it’s as simple as that,” a succinct Randy Carlyle, the Ducks’ coach, said.

Andy McDonald, Chris Perry and Ryan Getzlaf scored for the Ducks, who face the possibility of playing Game 4 without defenseman Chris Pronger, who injured McAmmond with an unpenalized elbow early in the third period and Chris Kunitz, who injured his leg after returning to the lineup after a seven-game absence with a broken hand.

”You have to give the other team credit,” Carlyle continued. “But we can play to a higher level. We’ll re-group, re-focus, make adjustments and go forward.”

The Ducks took 12 penalties in Game 3, and while allowing just one power-play goal, Carlyle wasn’t happy with his team’s discipline, or lack there of.

”You’re not going to come back against a hockey club like the Ottawa Senators taking four-straight penalties,” Carlye said of a stretch during the second and third periods that saw the Ducks moving to the box regularly. “We have to take responsibility for the outcome. Discipline was an issue.

”But as poorly as we played in the game, we still had a chance to win it.”

The second period may well be recorded as was the wackiest and highest-scoring of this series with the Senators scoring three goals to take what had at times seemed to be an unlikely 4-3 lead after 40 minutes.

Fisher, Alfredsson and McAmmond scored for Ottawa, while Perry and Getzlaf connected for the Ducks in up-and-down action that demanded full concentration from both the players and the crowd.

After a 1-1 first period, Perry gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead at 5:20 of the second, with Anaheim capitalizing on a Chris Phillips turnover to gain control of the puck. Perry had possession of the puck behind the net and came out to goalie Ray Emery’s right, freezing Phillips in the slot. Perry’s wraparound had just enough room to squeak past Emery for the goal.

But just 27 seconds later, Ottawa tied the game on a bizarre mental mistake by the Ducks.

With the faceoff in the Anaheim zone to Giguere’s left, the Ducks failed to get enough men on the ice for the draw. As they lined up, no Anaheim player on the ice caught the missing man and the Senators won the draw back to the point and Volchenkov, whose shot from the point was deflected past Giguere by Fisher, who played a dynamic, hard-nosed game.

The Ducks had sent their checking line out for that draw. Rob Niedermayer and Sammy Pahlsson made it to the ice, but the word apparently didn’t get to Travis Moen, who remained on the bench. Getzlaf realized his team was short and jumped on the ice, but too late to stop the goal.

The damage appeared to be negligible when Anaheim roared back into the lead at 7:38 on a scoring play once again initiated by Perry, who passed to teammate Dustin Penner in the right faceoff circle. Penner put a strong shot on net, but Emery allowed a long rebound into the slot where Getzlaf converted the goal that made it 3-2 for the Ducks.

More controversy was to follow at 16:14 when Alfredsson scored on the power play, only to see referee Dan O’Halloran wave the goal off, ruling Alfredsson had kicked the puck into the net.

The play was subsequently reviewed by NHL replay officials, who reversed the on-ice call.

Alfredsson was tied up with Getzlaf as he went to the net. Defenseman Wade Redden moved the puck into the slot from the point where Alfredsson deflected it into the net. The puck definitely went in off Alfredsson’s skate, but officials ruled it wasn’t deliberate as Alfredsson was trying to stop to avoid crashing into the net.

”I felt it was a goal all along,” Alfredsson said. “I think from the ref's position, he thought it went off my skate. I don't think it was kicked. But to me it felt I never kicked the puck, never lifted my foot. I was confident it was going to be a goal. At the same time, you never know.

Not to Caryle, though.

”Well, obviously the League felt it wasn't kicked in, simple as that,” the coach said. “Sometimes those things go for you. Tonight it went against us. Obviously, we felt that there was a kicking motion from our point of view, but I haven't really reviewed the replay from a bunch of different angles. But that's the way it is. They make the call and you have to live with it.”

So, the Senators once again had battled back into a tie. But now, their fortunes appeared to change in a big way. Moments after being credited with the power-play goal, Alfredsson nearly scored again, but he couldn’t get his stick on the puck while wide open in front. Instead of killing momentum for Ottawa, that nears-miss inspired more chances.

A fortunate bounce put Ottawa in the lead at 18:34 when Oleg Saprykin’s tremendous speed kept a play alive in the Anaheim end, allowing McAmmond to wheel the puck into the slot from the side of the net. The puck didn’t reach its intended target, Christoph Schubert, but instead caromed off the skate of Anaheim defenseman Pronger and into the net.

Jason Spezza nearly made it a two-goal game in the period’s final seconds when his long shot in the waning seconds deflected off the post and wide of the target.

The lone goal of the third period was Volchenkov’s. The defenseman, who is known more for his shot-blocking skills, found the back of the Anaheim net at 8:23 mark pushing the Sens to a rare two-goal lead in the series.

The Senators didn’t get the start they wanted in the opening moments of the game, disappointing the raucous crowd by allowing a power-play goal at 5:39.

With Redden off for interfering with Kunitz, the Ducks struck for their first man-advantage goal of the Final.

Teemu Selanne keyed the sequence, moving behind the Ottawa net and feeding McDonald in the slot. The bang-bang play was helped by a slight collision between Ottawa defenseman Andrej Meszaros and Emery, who ended up being beaten on the stick side, minus his stick.

The Senators regained their composure and by the midway point in the period began to take the play to the Anaheim end.

Giguere made a sharp save on Chris Kelly from the slot with 11:11 left in the period, Ottawa’s best chance to that point.

Seconds later, Alfredsson tried to go up top on Giguere, but his shot was a wee bit off, deflecting off the post and out of danger. Alfredsson tried again seconds later, but his shot was kicked aside by Giguere’s left pad.

With 5:40 remaining in the first period, Giguere made a blind save on a drive from Phillips, a shot that sparked very strong play in the Anaheim zone and the Senators’ tying goal.

This time, Ottawa’s “plumbers” struck pay dirt as new daddy Neil, whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child Friday (daughter Hailey weighed in at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.), celebrated the happy moment in style, tying the game for Ottawa.

”It was like a roller-coaster ride, waiting in line especially at the hospital,” said Neil, who missed practice Friday to attend the birth. “But just my wife is a trouper and it was amazing. I can't say enough. I knew where I had to be. It was amazing. You can't put words behind that. You just watched your baby being born. I can't say enough about it.”

Neil redirected Kelly’s pass from the left corner to the far side of Giguere, who got a piece of the puck with his glove, but couldn’t snag it.

”Tonight some of their foot soldiers, their lesser -- I don't like to ever call it lesser-known player, … maybe not their offensive catalysts that have been at the forefront of their success,” Carlyle explained. “Some of their other players stepped up for them and you have to give them credit.”

And the “must” win that has changed the complexion of the series.

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