|Travis Moen's goal late in the third period gave the Ducks a 3-2 win in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.|
ANAHEIM -- Whoever said hard work is rewarded had Travis Moen and the Anaheim Ducks in mind in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Moen, a member of the Ducks' checking line, scored the winning goal at 17:09 of the third period, completing an Anaheim comeback for a 3-2 Ducks win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"A lot of times, the old adage was a good defense is offense," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "If you can keep the other team in their defensive zone, then you don't have to worry about them scoring against you.
"And it's a key to the (Sammy) Pahlsson line with Niedermayer and Moen," Carlyle said. "They cycle the puck well and if they can have puck possession in the offensive zone, usually, A, it leads to momentum and B, sometimes it draws penalties."
For Moen, scoring his second game winner of the playoffs, the first coming in the second round against Vancouver, was a career highlight.
"It's huge," Moen continued. "I think every kid dreams of scoring a goal to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final. It's something special and something I'll never forget."
The Senators won't forget the game either, but Senators coach Bryan Murray says the mistakes his team made are correctable.
"We didn't start very well," Murray said. "We didn't finish very well. They had the majority of the chances. Their checking line played head-to-head with our guys and they ended up getting the winning goal, so that's the whole game in a nutshell.
"We turned the puck over too many times," Murray said. "That was the bottom line as far as giving them chances. We had seven turnovers in the second period, three were scoring chances and one a penalty. If we don't play better than that five-on-five, it makes a tough road in this building."
"Clearly, five-on-five we played well," Moen said. "We played the way we wanted to, physical. Nothing too pretty, lots of chips and dumps."
And a couple of timely goals in the third period to erase the 2-1 Ottawa edge.
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First, it was Ryan Getzlaf who tied the game at 5:44 when he swung wide on the right wing and sent a seemingly innocent backhand shot on goal that found its way past Senators goalie Ray Emery at 5:44.
Then, with overtime looming with each tick off the clock, Moen struck.
A mistake by an overzealous Andrej Meszaros, who took off after Rob Niedermayer behind the Ottawa net, allowed Moen to get free for the winner.
But the goal was anything but easy, as the puck was bouncing. Niedermayer shoveled the puck to Moen who got enough wood on the bouncing puck to get the puck past Emery for the winner.
"I saw the puck," Moen recalled. "I think Bobby tried passing it to me and it was kind of bouncing and I got lucky and caught it on the way down, got a lucky shot and it went in.
"It was huge," he said. "Go up 3-2 with a couple minutes left. We battled at the end and got the win.
Despite the mistakes, the Senators were only down a goal and fought to the last second for a tie. In the final minute, with Emery on the bench, the Senators nearly tied it when Chris Phillips pounded a point shot on J.S. Giguere and Daniel Alfredsson nearly converted the rebound during a mad scramble.
With Chris Pronger called for hooking at 19:16, the Sens had a two-man advantage, and Anaheim had to sweat out the remaining seconds to secure the win, the game ending with Giguere down on his knees after making another huge stop on Alfredsson.
Emery, who played well in defeat, says the Senators will be fine with a couple fixes here and there.
"It's a disappointing one, but we made a lot of mistakes," Emery said of seeing a 2-1 lead slip away in the third period. "If we continue to do the good things and fix the mistakes we'll be fine.
"I think we made maybe more mistakes than we have in most of our games," Emery continued. "But we did a lot of good things. We drew a lot of penalties … the power play was good for the most part, penalty kill was good for the most part. So you know, you have to fix some of those mistakes, but you can't forget about the positives."
The clubs battled over every loose puck in the opener and the soundtrack for Game 1 was heavy metal as body-on-body collisions were the norm in a game that saw 51 total hits.
Slam! Bash! Crash! Slam! Bash! Crash! Those were the sounds punctuating play at the Honda Center as the Senators and Ducks showed no hesitation at throwing bodies at one another in the series opener. The hitting was hard and frequent almost from the first drop of the puck.
Any rust the teams may have experienced since last playing was sandblasted away thanks to the intense physical play.
|Ryan Getzlaf breathed life back into the Ducks with his goal early in the third period.
As the teams trundled off after 40 minutes for a needed rest, the Senators held the slightest of edges at 2-1, a lead the Sens felt good to hold after being bottled up in their own end on several occasions, most notably in the first period.
"Obviously, now we're going to say the layoff was a bit of a factor because we know we didn't feel very good," Jason Spezza said. "It's not easy I guess when you have that many days off. You don't expect it to be easy. We didn't get on pucks as fast, I think. We've been skating well as a line and I don't think we had that extra jump. We didn't cycle the puck as well. What we didn't do, I think, is the reason we didn't get as many chances."
Mike Fisher got the Senators off the a roaring start in Game 1, scoring a power-play goal at 1:38 of the first period with Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer boxed for high sticking just 53 seconds into the game.
The goal was fluky in its origins since a shot from Fisher struck Giguere and deflected almost straight up in the air. Players from both sides looked skyward to get a glimpse of the disk. Mike Comrie saw it come down just in time to wedge his stick blade at the right post, but the bouncing puck found its way into the net on its own.
Anaheim responded at 10:55 when Andy McDonald took a nice pass from Teemu Selanne and snapped a high shot past Emery to knot the score at 1-1. Although not credited with an assist on the play, rookie Drew Miller started the scoring sequence with a big hit on Wade Redden that knocked the puck loose.
The goal produced a huge momentum shift for the remainder of the first period as Anaheim took the play to the Senators. On one sustained flurry in the Ottawa end, Dustin Penner had the puck behind Emery, but his backhand shot slipped along the goal line and off into the corner. The Ducks continued to pound away in the Ottawa end, exhausting the Senators, who couldn't get to the bench for a change.
The period ended with Anaheim holding an 8-3 edge in shots and the Senators went the last 11 minutes of the period without a shot.
"We gotta get the puck deep more often," Murray said. "We have to create some offense and get their defensemen to give up the line once in a while. They have their checking line and their guys standing up real well because we wouldn't put the puck in. Most of the turnovers were by our big line in the middle part of the hockey game. They started realizing that if you don't put it in and go to work and get it back once in a while in deep, then the checking line would be effective."
The Senators fought through the Anaheim surge and grabbed the lead early in the second period when Redden scored a power-play goal after Getzlaf took a bad penalty, repeatedly cross-checking Comrie and giving the referee no choice but to raise his arm.
Giguere was without his stick on the goal, having lost the handle on it during a scramble in front. Pahlsson attempted to flip the stick back to his goalie during the chaotic sequence, but Giguere was unable to grab hold and saw Redden's rising shot beat him to the stick side.
The Senators had a wonderful chance to build on the lead when Francois Beauchemin was boxed for tripping at 6:34 and then followed to the box by Pahlsson for slashing at 6:59. Despite several chances, the Senators were unable to mount sustained pressure on the 5-on-3 and Anaheim emerged unscathed.
Anaheim received a terrific effort in the second period from its fourth line of Todd Marchant, Brad May, Shawn Thornton, who managed several good scoring chances.
The Ducks had a chance to reprise the weird floating goal Fisher scored late in the second when a Scott Niedermayer slap shot deflected off the helmet of Pahlsson, who was tied up with Chris Phillips in front. Emery dove across the net and was able to slam his glove on the loose puck and get a whistle.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," Spezza said. "We didn't give our best effort and we still had a chance to win. I think we'll have a day to regroup. We've seen these guys play, we know what they're going to bring and I imagine we'll have a better effort come Wednesday."