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The champagne's on ice

STANLEY CUP FINALS

Ducks overcome Pronger's suspension to take a 3-1 series lead and move within one victory of their first Stanley Cup. Penner's goal wins it.

June 05, 2007|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

OTTAWA — If any of them were upset at Chris Pronger for getting himself suspended for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, the Ducks certainly didn't show it.

If any of the Ducks were worried about the Ottawa Senators tying the series or concerned that a momentum shift could turn it for good, they simply ignored those thoughts.

Faced with another round of adversity even when self-inflicted, the Ducks took it head-on and thrived. And now they can see a championship on the horizon.

As they did without Pronger in the Western Conference finals, the Ducks won, 3-2, on Monday night in front of a stunned sellout crowd at Scotiabank Place to close in on their first Stanley Cup.

The Ducks hold a 3-1 series lead with the first chance to hoist the Cup coming Wednesday night in Game 5 in Anaheim. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the finals.

"We know we've got a 3-1 lead," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "But the reality of it is the next one is going to be the toughest to win."

Pronger was dealt his second suspension of the playoffs by the NHL on Sunday after he leveled Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond with a forearm to the head Saturday in the Senators' 5-3 Game 3 win that pulled them back in the series.

The task became daunting for the Ducks but they faced it against Detroit when the defenseman was suspended for Game 4 because of a high hit on Tomas Holmstrom. But they won that game and the series.

They overcame his loss again as Andy McDonald factored in all three goals with two of his own and an assist on the game-winning goal by Dustin Penner at 4:07 of the third period. Jean-Sebastien Giguere kept them in the game with a brilliant first period and stopped 21 shots in all.

The Ducks, who have yet to lose two games in a row in the postseason, have now won their first road game after six tries in the Stanley Cup finals.

"We managed to do it all year," Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said. "If we come out, maybe don't play a good game, we manage to dig down, find a way to get back to our game quickly and start to work and skate and do things we need to do to have success."

After Dany Heatley tied the game at 2-2 late in the second period, Penner slammed in his first goal since Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals against Vancouver when he converted Teemu Selanne's pass on a two-one-one rush.

Selanne blew past Ottawa's Wade Redden after he took McDonald's chipped pass off the boards in full stride.

"It was a great goal by Penner," Selanne said. "I tried to look if there was something open to shoot, but there was not and so I decided to pass. It worked out well."

It didn't start out that way. The Ducks looked sluggish in managing only two shots in the first period and Ottawa was on the attack throughout.

The Senators peppered Giguere with 13 shots. But the Ducks' goaltender may have made his case for a second Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player by stopping a number of point-blank chances.

"They always say Jiggy doesn't make great saves," Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "But he never has to because his positioning is so good all the time and he plays angles."

The Ducks couldn't hold the Senators off completely as Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson banged in a power-play goal with 0.3 of a second left before intermission.

"It ticked me off," Giguere said. "I think everybody else too. We were lucky to get out of that period only 1-0. They had all the momentum. We weren't playing well."

McDonald turned their fortunes around with a brilliant two-play combination in a 60-second span that had the Senators reeling.

Playing one of the finest games of his career, the Ducks' top-line center got a pass from Todd Marchant from behind the net and patiently waited for Ottawa goalie Ray Emery to commit before putting in a wrist shot to tie the score.

Moments later, McDonald took a cross-ice feed from Rob Niedermayer and beat Emery with a backhand for his team-leading ninth goal of the playoffs.

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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