Anaheim, Calif. Checkmate.
The Anaheim Ducks' defensive stalwarts are hurting the Ottawa Senators on offense, too.
Samuel Pahlsson figured out sharp Senators goalie Ray Emery with 5:44 left in the third period to give the Ducks a 1-0 victory over Ottawa on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.
Pahlsson, a finalist to be the NHL's top defensive forward, joined linemate Travis Moen with game-winning goals in the series.
They already mastered the job of shutting down Ottawa's high-flying top line and now are providing the finishing blows against the Eastern Conference champs.
"We worked really hard the whole game for that one, but we couldn't get anything by Emery," Pahlsson said. "We just try to play our game, make it easy for us and hard for them. We got some goals and we don't expect that every game. It's fun."
On Saturday, the series will shift to Ottawa for the first time since 1927, and the Senators will have to figure out a way to break out of a scoring funk in the next two games to earn a trip back to Southern California. Teams that won the first two games at home have captured the Cup 29 of 30 times.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 16 shots for his sixth postseason shutout and first this year. He leaped as time ran out and the loud duck call vibrated through a deafening arena.
Emery finished with 30 saves for the Senators, who lost only once in each of their first three series.
After a turnover by Dany Heatley, Pahlsson carried the puck down the right-wing boards, worked around Daniel Alfredsson, and let go a shot past defenseman Joe Corvo who had his back to him. That matched Moen's winning tally that came with 2:51 left Monday night.
After a postseason low of 20 shots in the series opener, the Senators managed less of a punch in Game 2. But what the game lacked in goals, it didn't fall short in exciting, tense play. Whether it was enough to bring viewers to TV sets is another issue. Game 1 on Versus got only a 0.72 cable rating and was seen in 523,000 households in the United States.
Emery was brilliant and had the added bonus of a few quick whistles as he tried to freeze the puck. Senators coach Bryan Murray complained after Game 1 that the Ducks delivered a few extra stick jabs after the whistle and the message was received by referees Bill McCreary and Brad Watson.
Teemu Selanne nearly scored 31â2 minutes into the third when he chipped the puck to Emery's right up to the height of the crossbar. The puck fell tantalizingly close to the goal line, but Emery gloved it just in time.
Whether it was panic or progressive thinking, Murray started the game with Alfredsson without his familiar linemates Heatley and Jason Spezza - a trio that combined for 28 goals and 60 points in Ottawa's first 16 playoff games but had only two assists in the 3-2 loss in the finals opener.
The group got back together for the Senators' three power plays in the first period and scattered shifts during the opening two frames. But at even strength, the Senators looked little like the team that scored nine times in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals against Buffalo.