Travis Moen got credit for two goals and Andy McDonald, Rob Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin and Corey Perry supplied one each in a 6-2 Anaheim Ducks victory over the Ottawa Senators that closed out the NHL’s championship series in five games. Daniel Alfredsson scored both Senators goals.
The Ducks went all the way because they had the greatest depth of talent. No luck was involved.
Coach Randy Carlyle had three strong forward lines that could all score, he had Norris Trophy finalists Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger to man the blue-lines and he had a consistently good goaltender in Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
“This is a special moment,” said Pronger. “It’s always worth it when you win it.”
Shots were 18-13 for Anaheim in Game 5.
“To allow only 13 shots in a critical game like that is a tribute to the guys,” said Carlyle. “Players are the ones who put on the line night in and night out and they deserve all the credit.”
Scott Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and collected that prize before commissioner Gary Bettman handed the captain the Stanley Cup.
“I’m tired physically but you don’t get tired of this,” Niedermayer said of winning his fourth championship. “I can’t believe how fortunate I’ve been.”
The Senators were impressive through three rounds but could not cope with the rough-and-tumble Ducks in the final, and it didn’t help that goaltender Ray Emery had his worst performance of the post-season in the finale Wednesday night.
“Nothing was really happening and I was disappointed for (Emery), not at him but for him,” said Sens coach Bryan Murray. “He really had a battle to support his own players’ play.”
The critics said all along that the West was the best. They were right, and Canada remains without an NHL champion since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.
“I’m disappointed for all of us that we didn’t get it done,” said Murray.
Said Alfredsson: “It feels extremely empty right now, no question. … They had more depth than us in this series.”
Few Californians outside the Los Angeles region paid much attention to what was a brief but entertaining series but the Ducks had strong local support and finished their campaign with a 34th consecutive sellout.
The capacity 17,372 Honda Center throng, many waving orange rally towels, roared approval as the Ducks became the first West Coast team to earn the oldest trophy in North American pro sports since the Victoria Cougars won it in Vancouver in 1925.
Alfredsson was booed every time he touched the puck because his slapshot at Scott Niedermayer at the end of the second period Monday had made him new enemies.
Murray, desperate for some offence, split up Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley for the first time in the series but it was useless.
“It’s probably the worst feeling you could have as a hockey player,” said Sens forward Mike Comrie. “They played us tough.”
Three consecutive Ottawa penalties in the first 5:39 helped the Ducks gain the early momentum. McDonald opened the scoring with his team-high 10th goal on a power play at 3:41. He won a faceoff against Mike Fisher in Ottawa’s end to start it, then his shot from the circle to the right of Emery went through the goalie’s legs.
Emery had to match saves with Giguere to give his team a chance to extend the series and he wasn’t getting it done.
Anaheim was assessed the next three penalties but still grabbed a 2-0 lead. Perry jumped out of the penalty box to set up Rob Niedermayer at 17:41. Emery looked shaky on this one, too. Niedermayer skated around Mike Comrie. Anton Volchenkov, intent on checking another Duck, ignored Niedermayer who kept going to the net and lifted a backhander that struck the underside of Emery’s right arm and bounced into the net.
Alfredsson beat a partially screened and kneeling Giguere with a high shot from the middle of Anaheim’s zone 11:27 into the second period, and it gave the Senators some jump.
Then came the goal that crushed the Senators. Emery went behind his net and Chris Phillips joined him as the puck careened around the back boards. Phillips got it. Pressured by Rob Niedermayer, he took a stride and moved to his left. The puck got caught up in Emery’s skate blades as he moved back into his crease, and it slid into the net. Moen got credit for the goal at 15:44 as the last Duck to have touched the puck.
“Emery, Emery, Emery,” the crowd chanted in derision.
Alfredsson wasn’t giving up. Heatley and Spezza had disappeared, but the fiery Swede was giving it his all. His short-handed goal at 17:37 made it 3-2. He dashed down the right wing and with Giguere kneeling flicked a wrist shot into the top, short-side corner of the net while being hacked at from behind by Ryan Getzlaf. It was his league-leading 14th goal of the playoffs.
Beauchemin’s long shot off Volchenkov’s leg and past Emery on the same penalty at 18:28 restored a two-goal Anaheim lead, and Moen tipped a long Scott Niedermayer shot at 4:01 of the third to make it 5-2.
Antoine Vermette got a penalty shot when he was hooked by Todd Marchant a few minutes later but the Ottawa forward failed to get off a shot when he lost control of the puck while approaching Giguere.
It was all over and Perry put an exclamation mark on it with his slapshot from the slot at 17:00.
Nobody was happier to get his turn raising the Stanley Cup on high during the victory celebration than 15-year veteran Teemu Selanne. The affable Finn led the Ducks with 48 goals during the regular season in becoming at age 36 the oldest player in NHL history to pot more than 45 goals.
“What an unbelievable feeling. I’ve been waiting a long time,” Selanne said. “What an ending. … There were some times when I never thought this would happen.”
Asked if this was the end of his career, Selanne said, “I don’t know.”
Notes: There were 16 Canadians in Anaheim’s lineup and 12 among Ottawa’s 20 . . . Scott and Rob Niedermayer became the first brothers to win the Stanley Cup together since Brent and Duane Sutter in 1983 with the New York Islanders . . . Scott Niedermayer, the only Anaheim player with a ring previously, added a fourth to his collection . . . Anaheim is the first team since the 1975 Philadelphia Flyers to lead the league in regular-season penalty minutes and emerge with the Stanley Cup . . . The home team got to hoist the trophy for the sixth consecutive time. It hasn’t been won on the road since 2000, when New Jersey won it in Dallas . . . Referees for the clincher were Paul Devorski of Guelph, Ont., and Dan O’Halloran of Essex, Ont. . . The winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy was determined by ballots cast by 15 selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association . . . All that was missing as the players passed the Stanley Cup around was a Beach Boys tune. “Fun, Fun, Fun” perhaps.