Senators determined to defy Ducks, odds
The Ottawa Senators face a determined paddling of Anaheim Ducks, and almost insurmountable odds, as they return home for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final on Saturday (CBC, 8 p.m. ET).
The Senators lost the first two games of the best-of-seven series at Anaheim, knowing full well that only one team has erased an 0-2 road deficit to win the Stanley Cup.
That was the Montreal Canadiens in 1971, when rookie sensation Ken Dryden backstopped them by the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games.
"It was disappointing not to get a win," Senators defenceman Chris Phillips said. "But we cannot hang our heads.
"There's a lot of pride in this room and we're home now. We've got two games at home to even the series."
Dryden, now a Liberal MP in Ottawa, suggested Thursday that the Senators had legitimate chances to win both games, which they lost 3-2 and 1-0.
"Not everything went wrong in these first two games," he said. "And right now, the Senators are developing a plan to approach the third game differently.
"It doesn't take much to shift how a series goes. These games have been decided each by one goal, and it doesn't take much to shift that."
Senators forward Dany Heatley is looking forward to a shift of venues because the ice at Anaheim's Honda Center is slower and stickier than Scotiabank Place.
"We don't use it as an excuse," he said. "But we're used to our ice and our fans and now we have to step it up and play our best on Saturday."
Anaheim limited Ottawa's high-octane offence, which trailed only the Buffalo Sabres in goals scored, to a pedestrian 16 shots in Wednesday's 1-0 win.
Plus it held the potent "Cash Line" of Jason Spezza flanked by Daniel Alfredsson and Heatley in check for the second straight game.
The talented trio combined for 58 points in 15 games through the first three rounds of the playoffs, but have only two assists in two losses to the Ducks.
"Our line, we have to lead the way," Spezza said. "We've done it up to this point and it's tough for our team to have success if the three of us aren't going well."
Giguere on his game
Spezza tried to lead the way with a pair of slick passes through the crease during a lengthy two-man advantage in the opening period of Game 2, but Mike Comrie's shot struck the left goalpost and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made a splendid left pad save on Heatley.
"Giguere made some stops," Senators head coach Bryan Murray said. "It's as simple as that.
"We had four or five real good chances at the net. We jammed at it [and] he made two stops.
"That's what the game of hockey is. It is create and hope that you can get one by.
"But goaltenders do play in this game and do have an important role. And in this case, J.S. did a good job."
Ottawa is finding Giguere as imposing an obstacle to overcome as Norris Trophy finalists Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.
Giguere is 11-3 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .933 save percentage, making him a legitimate candidate to win a second Conn Smythe Trophy as top playoff performer.
Giguere was voted the most valuable player of the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs, even though the Ducks lost in seven games to the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup final.
Anaheim lost four road games in that series, but Giguere is confident that history won't repeat itself.
"We are very comfortable playing on the road, as well as at home," he said. "We're a team that has size and we can skate with any team in this league.
"So it doesn't really matter if we play at home or on the road. We'll be the same type of team."
Should the Ducks stick with the same, stifling approach that worked so well in Anaheim, Murray may break up the Cash Line and spread the offensive wealth throughout the lineup.
Murray tried it briefly at the beginning of Game 2, but with mixed results.
"I thought we got some great hits right off the bat," Murray said. "We had some tempo and motion and we skated better.
"Unfortunately, we didn't get many chances on goal. But there was some energy in the building and some energy in our dressing room."
Expect the Senators to be similarly energized when they return home for the next two games at Scotiabank Place.
"There's a comfort level at home," Murray said. "Players usually play better in their own building, with the support they get and the emotion in the building."
"It will be a benefit to us," Heatley noted. "Our crowd has been great all year and the [faster] ice here will help us, too."
With files from the Canadian Press