- E.J. Hradek, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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Quick Hits from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals:
• Anaheim's checking line of center Samuel Pahlsson, left winger Travis Moen and right winger Rob Niedermayer did an excellent job of frustrating Ottawa's top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson.
It was fitting that Moen scored the game-winning goal in the final minutes of the game. The Ducks' trio forced the Senators into too many turnovers. Too often, the Sens' top line failed to get the puck deep. Ottawa coach Bryan Murray was quick to mention that in his postgame remarks.
• Ducks veteran fourth-liner Brad May made the most of his limited playing time. He made several big hits to set the Senators back on their heels. May made a great play on Ryan Getzlaf's tying goal in the third period. May went to the net, drew both defenders (Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros) with him. That gave Getzlaf the room to move down the right wing and slid a backhander past Ottawa goalie Ray Emery.
• The Ducks' second-period penalty problems continued when defenseman Francois Beauchemin and Pahlsson took back-to-back penalties to give the Senators an extended 5-on-3 advantage. Anaheim was able to weather the storm, not allowing Ottawa to extend their lead.
• The Ducks stunted their own first-period momentum with a couple of dumb penalties in the second period. First, defenseman Ric Jackman felt the need to rough Mike Comrie after the whistle at the 14:14 mark. It was an obvious and totally unnecessary foul.
The Ducks survived that moment of foolishness, but couldn't survive Getzlaf's equally obvious cross-check to the back of Comrie. On the man advantage, the Senators took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Wade Redden. On the sequence leading to the goal, Ducks stopper Jean-Sebastien Giguere dropped his stick. Trying to help, Pahlsson used his own stick to try and flip the goalie stick back to Giguere. He did so, but the airborne goalie stick probably distracted the netminder. A second or two later, Redden shot beat Giguere.
• Anaheim rookie left winger Andrew Miller, younger brother of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, worked on the club's top line alongside center Andy McDonald and right winger Teemu Selanne. Miller did a nice forechecking job on the Ducks' first goal, scored by McDonald at the 10:55 mark of the first period. Miller hustled across the ice to rush Redden into a quick pass up the right wing boards. Redden's pass ended up on Selanne's stick. The "Finnish Flash" quickly moved the puck to McDonald in the slot. The Colgate grad made no mistake, firing a hot wrister over the glove of Emery.
• In the early going, the Senators were trying to execute a simple game plan against Ducks' top defenders, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. They were trying to finish their checks against Anaheim's dynamic duo as often as possible. That plan makes sense. The objective is simple: try and wear them down. If the Senators want to beat the Ducks, they'll have to continue that attack.
• On the Senators' first goal -- Mike Comrie's power-play tally at the 1:38 mark of the first period -- winger Peter Schaefer wasn't credited with an assist, but he did make an important play to help create the scoring chance. He did a nice job challenging Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell behind the goal line. Schaefer won the puck battle with O'Donnell. Comrie picked up the loose biscuit created by Schaefer's good work and started the sequence that led to the goal.
• California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the ceremonial puck before the start of Game 1. The Terminator-turned-politician received a nice reception from the packed house at the Honda Center. He looked very stiff in the role of a linesman dropping the puck. I don't think Game 1 linesmen Shane Heyer or Jean Morin had to be too concerned about Schwarzenegger making another career change.
• Rock legend Stephen Stills seemed to have a difficult time singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." To make matters worse, Spezza and Heatley did a high-speed, skate-by before he finished the song. If one of the two big Senators had lost an edge, it could have been ugly for Stills.
E.J. Hradek gives his Quick Hits from Game 1. First up -- the Ducks effectively shutting down the Senators' top line.