ANAHEIM, Calif. &
If not for the Anaheim Ducks' checking line, Teemu Selanne might be facing the same hounding questions as Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators.
Why aren't you scoring?
Selanne, who led the Ducks with 48 goals and 94 regular-season points, has been held to only one assist through two games of the Stanley Cup finals. But late third-period goals by Anaheim's defensive forwards have been enough to give the Ducks a commanding edge in the championship series.
Samuel Pahlsson took Travis Moen's lead from Game — and netted the winning goal with a precise shot past sharp Ottawa goalie Ray Emery with 5:44 left on Wednesday night, giving Anaheim a 1-0 win and a 2-0 series lead.
"I don't know what I can say about those guys," said Selanne, in the finals for the first time in 14 NHL seasons. "They are proud to do their job, and offensively they spark when they need to. Unbelievable job."
That would be the case for Pahlsson, Moen and Rob Niedermayer even without their five winning playoff goals. The shutdown work against Ottawa's top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Dany Heatley has been the story of the finals that could be over quickly if the Senators don't rediscover their offense.
Ottawa gave the puck away 21 times, 11 by Alfredsson (6), Spezza (4) and Heatley (1). It was only the second time in 17 playoff games the trio was pointless. The team has gone 95 minutes, 24 seconds without a goal since Wade Redden provided a 2-1 lead in the second period of Game 1.
"If you've got the answer, let me know. I'll put it in play next game," Spezza said. "We've got to figure it out. ... We've got to win two games at home now. We put ourselves in a tough spot. We know our line's got to lead the way."
On Saturday, the finals will shift to Ottawa for the first time since 1927. The Senators will need to win at least one of two there to get back to Anaheim. Teams that won the first two games at home have captured the Cup 29 of 30 times.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 16 shots for his sixth postseason shutout and first this year. He leaped as time ran out and the loud duck call vibrated through a deafening arena in Anaheim's fifth straight postseason win. Giguere has allowed fewer than three goals in 10 of 14 playoff games, looking like he did in winning the postseason MVP award four years ago.
"I'm feeling pretty good," he said. "Whether I'm in the zone or not, that's up to you guys to determine. It's not something I worry too much about."
Emery finished with 30 saves for the Senators, who lost only once in each of their first three series.
"Anybody who writes this team off is crazy," Spezza said.
The winning goal came after a turnover by Heatley. Pahlsson carried the puck down the right-wing boards, worked around Alfredsson, and let go a shot past defenseman Joe Corvo, who had his back to him. That matched Moen's winning tally that came with 2:51 left Monday night.
"For some reason, we're playing differently," Corvo said. "We have to find a way to get that feeling back."
The Ducks' checkers might have to work even harder in Ottawa, where the Senators have the last line change and will likely try to keep their scorers away from them.
After a postseason low of 20 shots in the opener, the Senators managed less of a punch in Game 2.
"Our turnovers are creating offense for them," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "I'm not sure why we're doing it, but we're trying to create some offense and we're not getting much."
What the game lacked in goals, it didn't fall short in exciting, tense play. Whether it was enough to bring viewers to TV sets is another issue. Game — on Versus got only a 0.72 cable rating and was seen in 523,000 households in the United States.
Selanne nearly scored 31/2 minutes into the third when he chipped the puck to Emery's right up to the height of the crossbar. The puck fell tantalizingly close to the goal line, but Emery gloved it in time.
Whether it was panic or progressive thinking, Murray started the game with Alfredsson without his familiar linemates Heatley and Spezza &
a trio that combined for 28 goals and 60 points in Ottawa's first 16 playoff games but had only two assists in the 3-2 loss Monday.
The group got back together for the Senators' three power plays in the first period and scattered shifts during the opening two frames. But Ottawa looked little like the team that scored nine times in the first two games of the East finals against Buffalo.
When the Ducks put pressure on early in the third, they did it at the expense of Ottawa's scoring line. The unit was also on for the winning goal for the second straight game.
Of the Senators' seven shots in the first period, five came on the power play and another came just after an Anaheim penalty expired. Ottawa mustered little more in the second when the sides played 5-on-5 until the final 2 minutes .
The Ducks sent 12 shots at Emery in the first and 14 more in the second, while holding Ottawa to 11 through 40 minutes.
Emery shook off any rust or nerves that troubled him in the opener and turned it into confidence that seemed to grow with every dangerous scoring chance he faced. The Senators tried to exert a physical style to match the Ducks' hard-hitters but paid a price.
While the heavy checks landed, Ottawa also adopted another characteristic of the aggressive Ducks &
the penchant for taking undisciplined penalties. Mike Comrie started the trend 2:17 in by sending defenseman Francois Beauchemin into the boards. Anton Volchenkov added another boarding penalty, when he drove Corey Perry into the glass behind Emery 6 minutes later.
Perry drew another penalty on Mike Fisher, who drove him to the ice twice.
The Ducks gave the Senators life by getting Ottawa's potent power play on the ice. Charging and slashing calls against Shawn Thornton and Chris Pronger created a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:08 of the first period.
As they did in Game — during another two-man advantage, the Ducks kept the Senators at bay. Giguere was the best penalty killer, stopping three straight whacks by Spezza into his pads.
Alfredsson saw time on shifts with Fisher and Peter Schaefer. Chris Neil moved up to play with Spezza and Heatley. ... The Ducks are 5-0 at home in their two finals appearances, 0-4 on the road.
Ducks take command of Stanley Cup finals
ANAHEIM, Calif. &