So maybe Chris Pronger should volunteer to sit out tomorrow night in Anaheim.
The Ducks, after all, seem to do just fine, thanks, without their all-star defenceman.
They demonstrated that — again — last night, when they outplayed, outhustled and even outclassed the Senators in Ottawa to record a 3-2 victory and stretch their lead to 3-1 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup championship series.
Pronger, in case you’ve been on Mars lately, was suspended for last night’s game after elbowing Ottawa’s Dean McCammond in the head during Game 3 Saturday night.
Pronger-less, the Ducks were supposed to get cooked by the Sens last night. Oddsmakers sensed the feast and established the Canadian side as a heavy, $1.90 favourite.
The Sens, however, appeared as if they had no appetites. They were largely sluggish and mostly flat, mustering up few scoring chances. They led 1-0 after the first period but were dominated in the second and third periods.
The final score flattered the Sens, really, as the Ducks hit three goalposts, as well.
It was déjà vu for the Ducks because, in the Western Conference final not long ago, Pronger also was suspended for a game after elbowing an opponent’s noggin, and the Detroit Red Wings couldn’t take advantage of his absence. The Wings lost the game in which Pronger was out and were eventually ousted.
A similar fate, it appears, awaits the Sens now. It may not be over yet, but if you listen carefully, you can probably hear an obese female clearing her throat, ready to croon.
“We settled down in the second and third periods and found a way to win,” analyzed Scott Niedermayer, the Ducks’ cerebral captain. “(Anaheim coach) Randy Carlyle wasn’t happy with us after the first period and he let us know what he thought, but we didn’t have to hear it from him. We knew we couldn’t win a Stanley Cup game playing the way we did in the first period.”
In the second, speedy forward Andy McDonald scored twice for Anaheim and, four minutes into the third, Dustin Penner notched the winner by redirecting Teemu Selanne’s pass past Ottawa’s goaltender, Ray Emery.
Emery didn’t have one of his better nights but the main goat for Ottawa in this one, theoretically, was captain Daniel Alfredsson, who mysteriously fired the puck directly at Niedermayer as time expired in the second period.
“If he knew what he was doing,” Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry suggested, “then he rallied Anaheim like you wouldn’t believe.”
As if the Ducks needed extra incentive.