Duck and recover

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

History and Samuel Pahlsson are against them.

It's only been done once, losing the first two games of the Stanley Cup final on the road and then coming back to win.

That was 36 years ago when the Montreal Canadiens lost the first two games in Chicago and came back to beat the Blackhawks in seven games.

The Senators can't do anything about history nor, it seems, about Pahlsson and the way the Ducks' outstanding defensive forward and his linemates have shut down the Senators' big line and found time to score both game-winning goals in Anaheim.

Discussion of the Senators' plight in this series has to begin and end with the struggles of the offence.

The Senators' big line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley has been shut down and shut out by the Ducks' checking unit.

And so the soul-searching continued yesterday as the Senators flew home.

"You got the answer, let me know and I'll put it in play the next game," said Spezza after Game 2.

"We've gotta watch the tapes. We gotta figure it out. We gotta try and cycle a little more. We've got to win two games at home now. We put ourselves in a tough spot. We know our line's got to lead the way."

Senators coach Bryan Murray will have the last change for the next two games and should be able to get his offensive leaders away from Pahlsson, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer, but he won't be able to do it all the time.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle is a coach totally committed to matchups and you will see them change on the fly.

"It's going to make it harder for us," said Pahlsson. "We can't put the guys on the ice against their guys, so it's going to be a different game. We're going to have to change a lot, probably go out, take a faceoff and get off the ice (when they're not against the Spezza line)."

Faceoffs will be important because if the Ducks win draws and control the puck, that will allow the line on the ice to get to the bench and give the Ducks the matchups they want.

Pahlsson has been a stud in the faceoff circle, too, winning 10-of-12 draws in Game 2 and keeping the puck away from the Spezza line (Spezza was 3-for-13 in Game 2). Just about every shift, the Spezza line is having to work to get the puck back right off the bat.

When they do have it, they have been facing withering pressure from the Pahlsson line and have been forced into turnovers (a team-high six for Alfredsson in Game 2, four by Spezza and one by Heatley).

TURNOVER LED TO GOAL

It was a turnover that led to Pahlsson's winner in Game 2.

"The biggest thing for us right now is we're getting really good back pressure and not giving them too many odd-man rushes. That enables our 'D' to stand up and not give them the line too much," said Niedermayer.

"If you give that line the blue line they are going to make some pretty skilled plays out there. That's been a big key for us."

That big 'D' has been the pairing of superstars Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer which Carlyle, in a bit of a surprise move, put together part way through the first period of Game 1. Carlyle will likely make sure at least one of them is on the ice at all times in Ottawa.

While the Senators' big line has been ineffectual at even strength, there are no excuses when it comes to the power play.

The Senators find themselves in this situation as much as anything because of their inability to score during two lengthy 5-on-3 advantages, one in each of the games.

The failure to capitalize in those two situations is another critical issue here, because if they had scored, they might have been able to win both games, even with the Pahlsson line doing a tap dance on the Spezza trio.

If there's a positive omen, maybe it's that Murray was the GM of the Ducks in 2003 when they lost the first two games of the final on the road to the New Jersey Devils. They went home and won the next two to make it a series.

It's not much, but the Senators should take whatever they can get right now.


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