The Ducks’ defence smothered the Senators, including keeping them from scoring on a five-on-three while Pronger was in the penalty box, during their 1-0 victory Wednesday night. As in their opening victory in the Stanley Cup finals, killing off the two-man advantage was a key in the game.
Anaheim, which held the Senators to just 20 shots in a 3-2 victory in Game 1, was even stingier in Game 2, allowing only 16.
“We’re just trying to limit those guys,” Niedermayer said. “They’re going to get their chances and we’re just trying to limit them.
“The biggest thing for us right now, we’re getting really good back pressure and not giving them too many odd-man rushes. That enables our ‘D’ to kind of stand up and not give them the lines too much. If you give the blue line, they’re going to make some pretty skilled plays out there.”
The Ducks got off 31 shots at Ottawa’s Ray Emery, who played flawlessly until Samuel Pahlsson slid the puck between his pads and into the net with 4:19 remaining.
Pronger and Niedermayer, the Ducks’ marquee defensemen who each have won a Norris Trophy and are finalists this year, obviously have a lot to do with the fact the Ducks are up 2-0, needing two wins to capture the team’s first Stanley Cup.
“This team always has revolved around defense, not a team to open up too much, and all that’s kind of built around those two guys,” forward Andy McDonald said.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere didn’t have to make many difficult saves against the Senators on the way to his sixth career playoff shutout. But he did make a fine stop in the closing moments, when he blocked Jason Spezza’s close-range shot by being in perfect butterfly position – the puck went into his pads.
The Senators had the two-man advantage in the first period after Shawn Thornton went off for charging at 12:31 and Pronger for slashing at 13:24. But Giguere snuffed Ottawa’s best chance when he blocked a shot, then snared the puck out of the air.
“It got scrambly there around the net for about five or 10 seconds, but he had some great stops again,” Pronger said. “You gain a lot of momentum on that from Jiggy.”
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray, whose Senators head home for Game 3 on Saturday, said, “Overall, their ‘D’ and their checking line have been the stars of the series to this point.”
The Ducks began shoring up their defense when they signed Niedermayer on Aug. 4, 2005. They added perhaps the final piece of the puzzle when they acquired Pronger in a trade with Edmonton last July.
The 33-year-old Niedermayer has three goals and seven assists in 17 games this postseason. He had 15 goals and 54 assists in 79 regular-season games to help Anaheim win the Pacific Division title.
He has won three Stanley Cups, all with the New Jersey Devils, including 2003, when they beat the Ducks – and younger brother Rob – in Game 7 of the finals. The elder Niedermayer decided to come to Anaheim and join his brother despite the Devils offering him more money.
The 32-year-old Pronger is tied with forward Ryan Getzlaf for the Ducks’ scoring lead this postseason, despite serving a one-game suspension. Pronger has three goals and 11 assists in 16 games.
He had 59 points, including 13 goals, in 66 games during the regular season. He missed seven games with a broken toe, another nine with a broken foot.
Pronger made it to the finals last year with Edmonton, which lost to Carolina. He then asked to be traded and Anaheim snapped him up.