Desperate to avoid a 3-0 series hole, it was the Sens' depth players who stepped it up and helped Ottawa stay in serious contention for the Cup, writes Scott Burnside. Story
" Experts debate 'kicking' rule
Alfredsson broke out of a scoring slump with the help of the replay booth, and Pronger deflected the go-ahead goal into his own net during Ottawa's three-goal second period, giving the Senators a 5-3 victory Saturday night.
That was enough to cut Anaheim's series lead to 2-1 and ensure the Senators another trip to Southern California. They can get even with the Ducks in Game 4 on Monday.
Whether Pronger will play is also under review. He leveled Dean McAmmond with a forearm shot to the head early in the third period, that left McAmmond flat on his back, and could face his second suspension of the playoffs.
"Hopefully they call something on it," forward Chris Neil said. "We had to go out and play hard for Dino. We did that and showed them we're a competitive team."
The Senators got scoring from all lines and looked more like the team that lost only three times in three playoff rounds instead of the club that appeared overmatched in dropping two straight one-goal decisions in Anaheim.
Alfredsson had been searching for a break during a frustrating two-plus games against the Ducks' checking line of Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer. He got it when Wade Redden's shot from the left point hit the Senators captain in the left skate as he charged the net, and slid past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere to tie it 3-3 with 3:46 left in the second.
Referee Dan O'Halloran immediately waved off the power-play goal before going to the phone at the scorer's table. The news that Alfredsson didn't use a distinict kicking motion on the puck got to the Senators bench before the ruling was announced, and coach Bryan Murray happily shook his fist.
"I was confident it was going to be a goal. At the same time, you never know," said Alfredsson, who leads the NHL with 11 playoff goals and has appeared in all 97 postseason games the Senators have played since being reborn in 1992.
The Ducks had won five straight since falling behind 2-1 to Detroit in the Western Conference finals. They are 0-5 in road Cup finals games in two appearances, 5-0 at home.
"Amazingly enough, as poorly as I thought we played in the game, we still had a chance," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said.
Suddenly they sound like the Sens.
Anaheim slipped back into its undisciplined mode and gave Ottawa seven power-play chances, including four in the third period when the Ducks were trying to catch up.
"You take four straight penalties and allow them to continue to press forward and get chance after chance," Pronger said. "We've got to come and re-evaluate and make sure we're disciplined in Game 4."
Ottawa, which managed only two power-play goals in the first two games, took its first lead since the opener on Pronger's gaffe. That was enough to give this Senators franchise its first win in the finals.
The boisterous crowd of red-clad fans was still buzzing about Alfredsson's goal when McAmmond blindly slung the puck behind his back toward the crease. Pronger hit it and couldn't sweep it away before it found the open right side at 18:34.
"I'm in the right spot and it just bounced off me," Pronger said. "It's not the first time it's happened. It certainly won't be the last. But it certainly wasn't a good situation."
Giguere angrily kicked the puck away in his worst performance of the playoffs. He hadn't allowed more than three goals in 15 previous appearances and finished with 24 saves.
Neil and Mike Fisher also scored for the Senators, who erased three one-goal deficits in the first Stanley Cup finals contest in Canada's capital in 80 years. Anton Volchenkov made it 5-3 at 8:22 of the third.
Ottawa's Ray Emery wasn't as sharp as in Anaheim, but protected the one-goal lead just over four minutes into the third when he stopped Todd Marchant's shot, then smacked the rebound away with his stick before it could bound into the net.
He finished with 19 saves.
For at least one night, Ottawa's top line of Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, avoided repeated questions about their lack of goal-scoring. Taking advantage of the last line change at home, Murray worked to get the trio away from Anaheim's checkers, who scored the winning goal in the first two games.
"Every line played real well," Alfredsson said. "As a team we needed to have a good effort. Every line had a goal ... if you do that you'll be successful."
Although these teams didn't meet during the regular season, they've found animosity. Tempers really rose in the third period when Pronger dropped McAmmond.
McAmmond fell backward and struck his head. He was attended to by the Senators medical staff before being helped to the dressing room. He was diagnosed with a head injury and didn't return, leaving him questionable for Game 5.
"I was just stepping up and finishing my check and I don't really know what happened after that," Pronger said.
The 6-foot-6 defenseman, who wasn't penalized, received a one-game ban for a hit on Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom in Game 3 -- Anaheim's previous loss. He could get another.
"It's not for me to decide what happens, but it was an elbow to the head," Murray said.
When Neil was drilled in front of the benches soon after, a full-force scrum broke out. Fisher sat on top of Ryan Getzlaf, while Anaheim's Dustin Penner held down Peter Schaefer. Anaheim's entire kid line of Penner, Getzlaf and Corey Perry went to the penalty box for roughing.
They also supplied the bulk of the Ducks' offense.
Perry gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead in the second period with his fifth of the playoffs at 5:20, but Fisher tied it 27 seconds later.
Andy McDonald staked the Ducks to their first advantage off a pretty power-play setup by Teemu Selanne 5:39 into the game. Ottawa wiped that out with 3:50 left in the first period on Neil's second of the playoffs.
It was the Senators' first even-strength goal of the series and snapped a scoring drought of 111 minutes, 34 seconds -- dating to the second period of Game 1.
Spezza briefly wore the jersey of scratched teammate Patrick Eaves in the penalty box. He switched to his own upon returning to the bench. ... Neil became a father of a girl Friday.