Goaltender Ray Emery played well enough to steal a win on Wednesday, but the offence failed to ruffle a single feather as the Ottawa Senators suffered a second stifling loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Samuel Pahlsson scored with 5:44 remaining and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 16 saves, as the Ducks blanked the Senators 1-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final before a crowd of 17,258 at the Honda Center.
Pahlsson stole the puck from Senators forward Dany Heatley in the neutral zone, burst into the offensive zone, and cut inside before unleashing a shot between the legs of defenceman Joe Corvo that eluded Emery for the decisive goal.
"We try to make them turn the puck over," Pahlsson said. "That is the best possible scenario for us — to get turnovers on the blue-line."
"That's been the key for them, our turnovers creating offence for them," Senators head coach Bryan Murray said. "I'm not sure why we're doing it.
"Players are trying to be a bit creative. But in this case, it burned us."
It was Pahlsson's third goal and Giguere's first shutout of the playoffs, and put Anaheim up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
"We'll take that effort," Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger said. "We played very well and didn't turn the puck over very much."
Game 3 goes Saturday at Scotiabank Place (CBC, 8 p.m. ET).
"We have played well in our own building," Murray said. "We absolutely have to do it this time and give ourselves a chance to come back here and get one.
"We've got to get skating the way we did to get this far. If we do that, then we'll handle it fine."
With Ottawa's second-ranked offence facing its sternest test in the defensive-minded Ducks, Emery was valiant in defeat as he stopped 30 of 31 shots.
"We were dominating the play and it was only a matter of time before we got one," Pronger said.
"They got the matchups they wanted at home and they took advantage of them," Murray said. "Their [defence] and their checking line have been the stories of the series so far."
Ottawa's top-scoring trio of Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson was held in check by Anaheim for the second straight game, prompting speculation that the line might be split up in Game 3.
"Definitely, we're counting on a couple of guys to be big-time players for us," Murray said. "And they played better tonight.
"But they didn't create much in the way of offence. I'm hoping when we get home that we can do a little juggling, and it will come.
"But yes, I'm concerned. They have to help us win games on the road as well as at home."
All three forwards have surpassed Marian Hossa's franchise mark of 16 post-season points set four years ago, with Heatley and Spezza counting 21 points apiece and Alfredsson 18 points, including a team-record 10 goals.
But the Ducks have limited them to two assists.
"I'm more frustrated than anything," Alfredsson said. "We cannot get the possession we've had in previous series."
"They're holding us up," Heatley claimed. "It seems like it's back to old-time hockey with lots of clutching and grabbing out there."
Emery razor-sharp early
Emery was razor-sharp at the outset, foiling Teemu Selanne twice with pad saves as the Senators killed off boarding penalties to Mike Comrie and Anton Volchenkov early in the first period.
The Senators were awarded a lengthy two-man advantage when Scott Thornton and Pronger were penalized 53 seconds apart late in the period, and did everything except put the puck in the net.
Giguere was brilliant, ranging far from the crease to stop Alfredsson's slapshot from the point, and flipping and flopping to foil several chances from the perimeter.
Spezza even passed through the crease to Comrie, who hit the left goalpost, and to Heatley, who was stopped by Giguere's left pad.
The excellent play exhibited by both netminders carried over into the second stanza, which was far less physical in tone than the first, as Giguere turned aside a quick shot from Tom Priessing off a faceoff and Emery made back-to-back blocker saves on
Emery later sprawled across the crease to stop Corey Perry from scoring and swept aside Pronger's low slapshot from the point as Anaheim outshot Ottawa 14-4 in the period and 24-11 through 40 minutes.
"They were putting a lot of traffic at the net and he seemed to be handling that really well," Senators goaltending coach Eli Wilson said.
The Ducks nearly broke the scoreless deadlock early in the third period when the puck caromed off Wade Redden's right leg and the crossbar before Emery scooped it up.
"Give them credit," Alfredsson said. "They played well."
Ottawa is 12-5 overall in the playoffs, registering five-game series wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time since the franchise was resurrected as an expansion entry in
Ottawa's original franchise (1893-1934) last played in the championship final 80 years ago, beating Art Ross's Boston Bruins, but the modern-day Senators face a daunting task if they hope to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Teams winning the first two games on home ice have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 29 out of 30 times, with the lone exception being the Montreal Canadiens in 1971.
"Anybody that writes this team off is crazy," Spezza said.