Ducks' checking line strikes again in Game 2

Updated: May 31, 2007, 3:49 PM ET
By E.J. Hradek | ESPN The Magazine

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Quick Hits from Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals:

• For the second straight game, the Ducks' checking line of center Samuel Pahlsson, left winger Travis Moen and right winger Rob Niedermayer was a force that the Senators couldn't handle.

The "Orange Line" (they wear Orange jerseys in practice) has done a superb job of stopping the Senators' top unit (center Jason Spezza, left winger Dany Heatley and right winger Daniel Alfredsson), and they've been doing some terrific work in the offensive zone, too.

In Game 2, Pahlsson netted the only goal, snapping a nasty wrist shot between the skates of Sens defenseman Joe Corvo and past the outstretched right pad of goalie Ray Emery. The goal came as a result of a neutral-zone turnover by the Sens' top line. Ottawa coach Bryan Murray will be happy to head home, where he'll have the last change. No doubt, he'll do everything in his power to get his top offensive players away from the "Orange."

• Ducks veteran defenseman Sean O'Donnell made a game-saving deflection on a late scoring chance by Senators winger Peter Schaefer. He reached out and got a piece of Schaefer's rebound attempt. A few seconds later, Moen sacrificed his body to block a big blast off the stick of Alfredsson. Those two plays saved the win (and the shutout) for the Ducks.

• Murray did some minor tinkering with his top line in the wake of his team's Game 1 loss. He kept the Spezza line together for most of the evening, but on a couple of occasions, he showed the Ducks a different look. He used Spezza and Heatley with hard-charging right winger Chris Neil for a couple of shifts. Later, Murray paired speedy veteran Dean McAmmond with Spezza and Heatley. In conjunction with that, he at times moved Alfredsson on a line with Schaefer and center Mike Fisher.

In the second period, with the long change, Murray tried to switch on the fly to keep the Spezza line away from the Ducks' checking line. On the flip side, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle often sent the elite defensive pair of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger onto the ice to help stop Spezza & Co.

• After getting roughed up by the Ducks in Game 1, the Senators were looking to initiate the contact in Game 2. On the game's first shift, Fisher hammered Scott Niedermayer into the end boards. After that, several Senators went Duck hunting. The littlest Senator, Mike Comrie, was a little too eager to get into the act. He took a boarding penalty at the 2:17 mark of the first period to give the Ducks an early power-play chance. Anaheim nearly cashed in the chance when Todd Marchant whipped a quick shot at Emery from the right-wing side of the net. Marchant's shot slid through Emery's pads, but the puck hit the goalie's skate and caromed across the crease and out of harm's way.

• The referee duo of veteran Bill McCreary and Brad Watson made life very tough on the Ducks in the latter half of the first period. With Shawn Thornton already in the box for charging, the zebras whistled Pronger for a ticky-tack slash on Comrie. The call gave the Senators a two-man advantage for 1:08. If you call that slash in that situation, I think you have to call the dozen or so other more significant slashes that I counted after that. McCreary and Watson also missed an obvious roughing call on Heatley about five minutes into the third period near the benches.

• During a night of nasty collisions, Francois Beauchemin's second-period hit on Comrie stood out. The two skaters came together along the left-wing wall in the Senators' zone. Beauchemin caught Comrie with a shoulder to the head, snapping the smaller forward's head back and knocking him to the ice. Fortunately, Comrie escaped with nothing worse than a bloody nose and some hurt feelings.

• For the second straight game, the Ducks dominated five-on-five play. In the first 10 minutes, Anaheim outshot Ottawa 10-1. In the first 53 minutes, the Ducks held a 29-13 shot advantage. At that point, nearly half of the Senators' shots had come during their three power-play chances. The Ducks broke the scoreless tie on their 30th shot. Anaheim finished with a 31-16 shot advantage.

E.J. Hradek covers hockey for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at ej.hradek@espnmag.com. Also, click here to send E.J. a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.

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