Spezza line has bad game

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- Arnold Schwarzengger dropped the puck last night at Honda Center and the Ducks made like The Terminator in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final last night.

They were on a seek-and-destroy mission.

There were no hi-tech weapons here though, just wave after wave of hammers, anvils and crowbars.

The Ducks hammered the Senators, knocked them down, hacked them, pounded them.

The Senators absorbed it all and, to their credit, gave some back, but were clearly overmatched in the Ducks' 3-2 win.

This is what was expected, right?

Nothing pretty here among the palm trees, no cosmetic enhancements for which L.A. is famous, just hard slogging for the Senators against a big, hard-working team.

The Senators might be perceived as the faster of the two teams, but there were good stretches when they were outplayed at even strength last night by the Western Conference champions. There were times when the game seemed out of the Senators' grasp, the Ducks running hard, causing turnovers, the Senators scrambling to keep up, looking overmatched for the first time in these playoffs.

The Ducks' aggressiveness cost them last night as the Senators scored two power-play goals on bad penalties. The first was on a high-sticking penalty to Ducks defenceman Scott Niedermayer after he took a hit from Ottawa's Chris Neil early in the game.

Mike Fisher scored on that one.

The Senators' other power-play goal came on a cross-checking penalty to Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf, taken along the end boards in the defensive zone.

Senators defenceman Wade Redden, whose two turnovers led to two Anaheim goals last night, scored on that power play, making it an eventful night for him.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, meanwhile, made a couple of smart moves that paid off for his club.

About halfway through the first period, he threw both of his blue-chip defencemen, Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, on the ice at the same time against the Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson line.

With Selke-nominated Samuel Pahlsson centring the Ducks' checking line with wingers Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer, that resulted in a pretty imposing challenge for the Spezza line. They created little in even-strength situations and are going to have to elevate their games tomorrow night.

To make matters worse for Spezza line, they were on the ice when Moen scored the winner.

MOVE PAYS OFF

Another move that paid off for Carlyle was moving forward Todd Marchant off the line with Teemu Selanne and Andy McDonald, bumping him down to the fourth line with Brad May and Shawn Thornton.

The move gave the Ducks' fourth line some experience and speed and they had a couple of shifts last night where they were too much for the Senators' fourth line to handle.

They had one shift in the first period where they buzzed around the Ottawa zone and had a couple of chances and duplicated that in the second. Both those shifts were important momentum grabbers for the Ducks.

Drew Miller, meanwhile, played just his second game of these playoffs and took Marchant's place with Selanne and McDonald. The brother of Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller -- who was at the game last night -- helped cause the turnover that led to the Ducks' first goal.

He got Redden on his backhand on the boards and with Miller bearing down on him, Redden might have rushed his clearing attempt. It was cut off by Selanne, who fed McDonald in the slot for the Ducks' first goal.

Those are the kind of opportunities that can be created when there is a commitment to punishing puckhandlers.

The Senators knew going into this final that this is the way the Ducks would play.

They do not turn away from the chance to finish a check.

Not that the Senators were slouches in that department, either. Winger Peter Schaefer got a couple of good bumps on Scott Niedermayer and played one of his best games of the playoffs, but the Senators now need more from more people.

They are faced with a situation they have not faced this spring, trailing in a series.

The heat is now on the Spezza line. It has been able to overcome whatever challenge has been put in front of it in these playoffs.

This is clearly going to be the trio's biggest.

How they respond is going to determine if the Senators are going to have a shot in this series.


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