Phillips blunder ranks high in history of playoffs

Updated: June 7, 2007, 4:18 AM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Chris Phillips wore a pained expression as he removed his pads, then sighed as he slowly took off his socks.

It's tough losing, especially when you commit the most egregious error of the Stanley Cup finals.

"Now I know how Steve Smith feels," Phillips said, referring to the former Edmonton Oilers defenseman who inadvertently shot the puck into his own goal in Game 7 of the 1986 quarterfinals against Calgary to snap a tie.

A pass by Phillips went off the skates of Ottawa goalie Ray Emery and into his own net to give Anaheim a two-goal lead late in the second period, and the Ducks went on to beat the Senators 6-2 on Wednesday night to win the best-of-seven series in five games.

The 29-year-old Phillips, a member of the Senators since 1997, brought the puck out from behind the left side of the net, but Emery was slow getting back in the crease and Phillips' pass went in off the goalie's skates.

A few minutes earlier, Phillips barely missed getting his first point of the postseason when his potential tying shot deflected off a teammate before hitting the right post.

"It has happened 100 times," Phillips said. "I pulled the puck out to go the other way, it just got caught in his feet."

Emery never saw the puck, apparently thinking it was on Phillips' stick. Visibly shaken, Phillips skated back to the Ottawa bench with the Honda Center crowd roaring. Travis Moen got credit for a goal he had nothing to do with and the Ducks led 3-1.

"I felt bad, obviously a mistake, not something I was trying to do, that's for sure," Phillips said. "We had a great 10 minutes or so in the second period until my screwup seemed to take a lot of the momentum away."

Emery defended his teammate, saying: "It's not his fault. We lost 6-2. It's not just that play. I saw Philly looking at my feet, I assumed the puck was at my feet. The crowd roared."

And with that, Emery realized exactly where the puck was.

"We were capable of winning against that team. We didn't play our game," Emery said. "I didn't play as well as I wanted to, or could have."

Anaheim stretched the lead to 5-2 early in the third before Ottawa's Antoine Vermette missed a penalty shot. That sort of summed things up for the Senators, and assured the Ducks of their first NHL championship.

Thus, the Senators' quest for their first Stanley Cup in 80 years came to a decisive end with their most lopsided loss of the postseason. Each of their previous six losses in the postseason was by one goal including three to Anaheim.

Ottawa lost only one game in each of its three series against Eastern Conference opponents, but the Senators were no match for the bigger, more physical Ducks.

The Senators won 11 Stanley Cups between 1890 and 1934. They returned to the NHL as an expansion team before the 1992-93 season, and reached the finals this year for the first time since their return.

The Senators hoped to become just the second of 29 teams to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who trailed 3-0 before beating the Detroit Red Wings.

The first bit of bad news for Ottawa came with the announcement that center Dean McAmmond was scratched following the pregame skate. McAmmond, who had five goals and three assists in 18 postseason games, didn't play after being elbowed in the head by Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger in the third period of Game 3.

Pronger was suspended for Game 4 by the NHL, but returned Wednesday night.

Then, the Senators were penalized twice in the first 3½ minutes, and paid the price when Andy McDonald's goal just as Ottawa's first penalty expired put the Ducks ahead for good.

The line of Dany Heatley (50), Jason Spezza (34) and Daniel Alfredsson (29) combined for 113 goals during the regular season and 23 in the first three playoff series. Alfredsson had four goals against the Ducks. including both scores Wednesday night, but Heatley had only one and Spezza none.

"Right now, it's pretty disappointing," Heatley said. "They played well. I don't think we played the way we can play. They did a really good job, especially with their checking line and their defense. I think we're better than that offensively."

The Senators beat the Ducks 5-3 in Game 3, but scored six goals in the four losses.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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