Sammy Pahlsson’s goal at 14:16 of the third period gave the Ducks a 1-0 victory Wednesday night over the Ottawa Senators, and a 2-0 lead in the NHL’s championship series.
The league history books show that teams winning the first two games of the final at home have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 29 of 30 times. The only exception was in 1971 when Chicago lost to Montreal in seven games.
Ottawa’s shot at becoming the first Canadian champion in 14 years has thus been relegated to longshot proportions.
The best-of-seven series shifts to Ottawa for games Saturday and Monday.
Pahlsson gathered in a loose puck at the top of the circle to the left of goaltender Ray Emery and, as Joe Corvo charged towards him to check, let go a wrist shot through Corvo’s legs and past Emery.
It was a tough break for the Senators’ goalie, whose valiant effort had kept his team in the game.
The hard-hitting, fast-moving contest was played in front of another loud Honda Center sellout crowd of 17,258 including about 500 Senators fans who’d made the trip from various Canadian cities and towns.
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray needed more from his big guns than he got in a 3-2 Game 1 loss Monday so he started the game by taking Daniel Alfredsson off his first line and using him with Peter Schaefer and Mike Fisher. Chris Neil took Alfredsson’s place alongside Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.
The Ducks picked up right where they left off in Game 1 by hitting every red, white and black sweater that moved. Halfway through the first period, they had peppered 10 shots on Ray Emery, while the Senators had managed only one on Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Murray reunited Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley. The Senators then got a two-man advantage for more than a minute and did everything but score. They played better the rest of the period, and Neil, Anton Volchenkov and Christoph Schubert finally started knocking Ducks down.
Murray briefly reverted at the start of the second period to the line combinations he used to begin the game, but he quickly had Alfredsson back with Spezza and Heatley.
The line shuffling had little effect. The Senators couldn’t mount much offence. Anaheim had a 12-7 shots edge in the first period and a 14-4 advantage in the second.
Emery, dropping to his knees to make many of his saves and sprawling in his crease as Ducks crowded him, was keeping his team in it.
Anaheim’s line of Ryan Getzlaf between Dustin Penner and Corey Perry continued to give the Senators fits, but there still were no goals after 40 minutes.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle kept his checking line of Pahlsson between Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer on Spezza and Heatley and whoever they were playing with. Pahlsson was beating Spezza on most faceoffs they took.
The Ducks nearly scored in the fourth minute of the third period when Teemu Selanne’s shot struck Wade Redden and caromed off the crossbar.
The Senators tightened their checking in the third and reduced the Ducks’ scoring chances. It was their best period of the series so far, and it amounted to a hill of beans when Pahlsson broke the scoreless tie.
Anaheim’s checking line has supplied all the winning goals in the final so far. Moen got the winner Monday.
The Senators tried as hard as they could to force overtime. Schaeffer missed an open net with three minutes left. They just could not get a puck behind Giguere.
Shots were 5-5 in the third period. Anaheim outshot Ottawa 31-16 on the night in winning its fifth consecutive game of the post-season.
The Ducks improved to 9-2 on home ice during the playoffs.
It was the first time since last December that Ottawa lost two consecutive games in regulation time.
The last West Coast team to win the oldest team trophy in pro sports was the Victoria Cougars.
Notes: Each team was 0-for-4 on power plays . . . LW Oleg Saprykin was reinserted by Ottawa in place of Patrick Eaves . . . The referees were Bill McCreary of Guelph, Ont., and Brad Watson of Regina . . . Ottawa’s Antoine Vermette entered the game with the best faceoff win percentage (60.2 – 174 wins and 115 losses) of any player on the ice . . . Anaheim could become the first team since the 1975 Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup the same season as leading the NHL in penalty minutes . . . Former Oilers forward Ryan Smyth, soon to become an unrestricted free agent, was in the crowd . . . Celebrities spotted in the crowd included actors James Caan, Ray Liotta, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Lucas and Jerry O’Connell, hip hop artist Snoop Dogg, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and former baseball player Mark McGwire . . . Perry’s first job was night work loading trucks at Sleep Country Warehouse in his home city of Peterborough, Ont. . . Jari Kurri, the Finn who’s best known for his success with Edmonton in the 1980s, played for Anaheim in his second-last season, 1996-97, and is the only player in the team’s 14-year history to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.