Ducks destroy Senators to win Stanley Cup
The Anaheim Ducks removed the "Mighty" from their nickname this season, but winning their first Stanley Cup removed any doubt that they were the mightiest team of all.
The Ducks won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, by virtue of a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 of the championship final before a frenzied crowd of 17,372 at the Honda Center on Wednesday.
Anaheim, which entered the NHL in 1993-94, is the seventh straight league champion to clinch on home ice, the first team from California to win the Stanley Cup, and the first team west of the Rockies to win the Cup since the Victoria Cougars vanquished the Montreal Canadiens in 1925.
Travis Moen scored twice for the Ducks, while Andy McDonald and Corey Perry had a goal and an assist apiece.
"What an amazing atmosphere," McDonald said. "You would think you were in Canada out there.
"The fans were unbelievable. We have really had a good following all through the playoffs."
Rob Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin had the other goals in support of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 11 of 13 shots.
Giguere even outguessed Antoine Vermette on a third-period penalty shot.
"To allow only 13 shots in a critical game like that is a tribute to the guys," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said. "Players are the ones who put it on the line, night in and night out, and they deserve all the credit."
Chris Pronger returned to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for knocking out Senators forward Dean McAmmond with a forearm blow in Game 3.
Pronger, who sat out last Sunday's 3-2 triumph, notched an assist on McDonald's tally.
"This is a special moment," Pronger told CBC Sports. "It's always worth it when you win it."
The only Anaheim player to win the Stanley Cup in the past was captain Scott Niedermayer, who hoisted it three times with New Jersey.
Not Pronger. Not Teemu Selanne. Not even general manager Brian Burke or head coach Randy Carlyle. Now they are all champions.
"I've been dreaming about this moment for 15 years," Selanne said. "There were times when I never thought this would happen.
"I'm so happy that I finally won something. The Stanley Cup is the biggest trophy for a hockey player, and that's why this is so special."
Niedermayer named MVP
Scott Niedermayer further distinguished himself by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the top playoff performer this spring.
"I was a little surprised," he said. "We had a handful of candidates, I think.
"I was out there trying to do my thing. To be recognized like that, I'm thankful."
"He is one heck of a defenceman, a very tough defenceman to forecheck," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson noted. "He carried their team, I think."
The Niedermayers are the first siblings to win the Stanley Cup together since Brent and Duane Sutter did so with the New York Islanders in 1983.
"To do it with my brother, it's unbelievable," Rob Niedermayer said. "It feels good to win today."
When Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim's captain, received the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, he handed it first to his brother.
"I guess he's one of the assistant captains," Scott Niedermayer said. "Maybe not quite the seniority.
"But I figured I could use my rank as captain to make that decision. I thought it'd be pretty special to be able to do that."
The Niedermayers, from Cranbrook, B.C., also represent two of Anaheim's 19 Canadian players, the most Canadian content of any team in the NHL.
"No question, they had more depth than us in this series," Alfredsson said.
Alfredsson scored both goals in a losing cause for the Senators, giving him a team-record 14 in the playoffs.
"It's kind of hard to take in right now," Alfredsson said. "It feels very empty.
"We worked so hard to get here. I don't think we played our best."
"It's the worst feeling you could have as a hockey player," Senators forward Mike Comrie said. "They played us tough."
Ray Emery made 12 saves in defeat.
"We were more than capable of winning against that team," he said. "That's why it's even more disappointing.
"If we play our game, we beat that team. But we didn't play our game."
"Nothing was really happening and I was disappointed for him, not at him but for him," Senators head coach Bryan Murray said. "He really had a battle to support his own players' play."
Quick start by Ducks
Anaheim outshot Ottawa just 5-3 in the first period, but jumped out to a 2-0 advantage.
Three Senators found themselves parked in the penalty box in the first six minutes, allowing the Ducks to gain early momentum and, ultimately, an early lead.
McDonald was credited with opening the scoring 3:41 into the contest when his pass banked off a skate and behind Emery at the end of a lengthy two-man advantage.
It was McDonald's fifth goal of the Stanley Cup final and 10th of the playoffs, both team highs.
"I was trying to send it across to Teemu's backdoor and it went in off a defenceman's skate," McDonald said.
Rob Niedermayer made it 2-0 with 2:19 left in the period, when he collected the puck along the side boards and bulled his way around a defenceman before fooling Emery with a backhand shot to the stick side for his fifth.
Alfredsson replied 11:27 into the second period as he retrieved the puck along the side boards and fed it to Mike Fisher, who circled in the corner and passed it to Peter Schaefer.
Rather than shoot, Schaefer tapped the puck to Alfredsson and he fired it past Giguere to cut it to 2-1.
Schaefer nearly tied it moments later as he deflected a slapshot from Chris Phillips, only to watch it hit the left goalpost.
Phillips later suffered the ultimate indignity, taking the puck from Emery behind the Senators net and inadvertently knocking it off the goaltender's skate and into the net as he began to rush up ice.
"It has happened 100 times," Phillips said. "I pulled the puck out to go the other way [and] it just got caught in his feet."
Phillips's own-goal was credited to Moen at 15:44.
"Now I know how Steve Smith feels," Phillips said, referring to the retired Edmonton Oilers defenceman who had a similar goal in a Game 7 loss to the Calgary Flames in 1986.
"It was just a terrible break," Alfredsson said. "I feel bad for him.
"He had an incredible year for us. Those things happen."
Alfredsson trimmed the deficit just 1:54 later on a marvelous individual effort, outracing Ryan Getzlaf to the loose puck and fending him off as he beat Giguere high to the glove side for his second goal of the period.
But Beauchemin offset Alfredsson's short-handed goal with a power-play tally 50 seconds later on a slapshot that grazed Anton Volchenkov en route to the back of the net.
It was Beauchemin's fourth and put Anaheim ahead 4-2 through 40 minutes.
Moen upped it to 5-2 at 4:01 of the third period, deflecting Scott Niedermayer's low shot for his second goal of the game and seventh overall.
After Giguere foiled Vermette on a penalty shot 7:23 in the third period, Perry's sixth capped the scoring with three minutes remaining.
"Anaheim is a hell of a team," Murray said. "We thought we could have competed and the series would have been longer at any rate.
"Positionally, they played better than we did. Defence, in particular."
Senators dug deep hole
Ottawa is the third straight Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup final, and the third to fail to win it all, suffering the same fate as the Calgary Flames (2004) and Edmonton Oilers (2006), both of whom fell in seven games.
The Senators went 0-3 in one-goal games in the final after claiming seven of 10 one-goal decisions in the first three rounds.
"I don't think we played as well as we could," Senators forward Dany Heatley said. "It's frustrating and disappointing.
"Especially offensively, we're better than that, we can create more than we did. I don't know what to say more than that."
Ottawa finished 13-7 in the playoffs, winning five-game series from the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Devils and Buffalo Sabres to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time since the franchise was resurrected as an expansion entry in 1992-93.
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 dug themselves an early hole against Anaheim.
The Senators lost the first two games of the best-of-seven series at Anaheim, knowing full well that only one of 30 teams had erased an 0-2 road deficit to win the Stanley Cup.
That was the Canadiens in 1971, when a rookie goaltender named Ken Dryden backstopped them by the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games.
"I'm disappointed for all of us that we didn't get it done," Murray said.
With files from the Canadian Press