Alfie really blew this one

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

OTTAWA -- Daniel Alfredsson stopped, aimed and fired in the direction of Scott Niedermayer, missing the defenceman, but possibly killing his Ottawa Senators in the process.

It was a decision he will come to regret over time, if he doesn't regret it already.

It was a decision that he will lie about and it will become famous over time, when the debate turns to hockey and how the Senators lost the Stanley Cup.

It was a hockey bullet in the final seconds of the second period, immature for a veteran leader yet self-inflicted.

"People have long memories," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle snorted after the 3-2 victory by the Ducks, giving them a commanding 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup final. "I thought it was blatant shooting the puck at your player at the end of the period. You could tell he directed it towards him, because he changed the shooting angle halfway through his wind up."

And don't believe for a second that it didn't provide some kind of necessary life for a short-handed Ducks team, playing without Chris Pronger, living on a short bench and fumes, needing their best and worst to take them within a win of their first championship.

"That was a garbage thing to do," said Francois Beaucheim, once a throw-in in a deal, who played 31 minutes and 40 seconds last night and looked at times like he had nothing left. "You don't get away with that kind of s--t."

It was one thing for Alfredsson to aim the puck at a Ducks player. It was another that his target happened to be Niedermayer, who with Pronger out, took the place as Anaheim's most indispensible player.

The normally mild-mannered Niedermayer, who has been known to avoid confrontation in his day, went at Alfredsson as pushing and shoving ensued at the end of the period. The score was tied 2-2 then.

The Ducks never looked like they would lose after that.

When asked about what happened with Alfredsson, Niedermayer didn't want to elaborate: "That really has nothing to do with trying to win a hockey game. We're here to try to win a hockey game. So it's as simple as that."

Then he elaborated. Barely.

"You can probably figure out what I thought after it happened," he said. "Doesn't do any good to talk about it, really. I wasn't happy. No need to get hit with a puck at that point. So I'm not going to say anything more than that."

But it proved to be oxygen for an undermanned team, in a foreign building, who got all kinds of special performances up and down its lineup.

Andy McDonald, the kid from Colgate who shoots pucks at Leaf goalies at a summer hockey school, scored two goals and added an assist in the Anaheim win. It was an enormous night for the unheralded McDonald, who was never drafted into the NHL.

In the year he was eligible, Anaheim used the fourth pick in the draft to select Chad Kilger, Los Angeles used the third pick in the draft to select Aki Berg and the second-pick, taken by the Islanders and traded to Ottawa, was defenceman Wade Redden.

The winning goal came off the stick of Dustin Penner, another unwanted American college player from Canada, like McDonald, another David McNab signing made good.

It was that kind of night for the Ducks, now a win away from the Cup. The first line centre they weren't supposed to have scored twice. Un-heralded defencemen Kent Huskins contributed in a big way. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the goalie who never seems to get enough credit, kept them in the game in a busy first period.

Everybody played a part: It is forever that way with championship teams. "We wouldn't be here without a bunch of these guys," said Niedermayer. "When I came to the team two years ago, I didn't even know a lot of them."

He knows them now. Soon they will celebrate together. But before that, there may be some payback to a certain captain.


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