Ottawa Senators right winger Daniel Alfredsson (left) is knocked off the puck by Anaheim Ducks defenceman Scott Niedermayer during first period NHL Stanley Cup game 3 action in Ottawa on Saturday. (CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)
A sell-out crowd blew the roof off Scotiabank Place as the Senators hit the ice, celebrating Ottawa's first Stanley Cup game in 80 years. The Ducks promptly deflated the raucous audience, seizing the early lead before the Senators responded with their first goal in over five-and-a-half periods of action.
Already up 2-0 in the series, the Ducks received more good news with the return of forward Chris Kunitz, who was added to the lineup for Game 3. Kunitz, who had 25 goals and 60 points in the regular season, broke his hand in Game 1 of the Western Conference final against Detroit and wasn't expected to return for another week.
Kunitz was paired with regular linemates McDonald and Teemu Selanne, and the feisty line immediately drew the first penalty of the game. Senators defenceman Wade Redden knocked Kunitz to the ice as the Ducks winger charged towards the net.
McDonald made the Sens pay on the power play, converting a Selanne pass with a low wrist shot that beat Senators netminder Ray Emery on the short side.
The Senators dominated play for most of the final 10 minutes of the period, finally tying the score at 16:10 as Neil redirected a one-timer from point-blank range that trickled past Ducks netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The goal ended a drought of 111 minutes, 34 seconds dating back to the second period of Game 1.
There was talk the Senators might dismantle their top line after Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley all struggled in Anaheim. The trio remained together in the first period, but was largely ineffective, leaving them goalless in the series after scoring 23 times in Ottawa's first 15 playoff games.
The Ducks had the best early scoring chance, with Emery gloving Dustin Penner's quick wrist shot from just inside the low slot two minutes in.
Notes: The Senators hadn't played at home since losing 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final on May 16. ... Ducks left-winger Drew Miller was scratched to make room for Kunitz. Miller, the brother of Sabres netminder Ryan Miller, was scoreless with two penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating in the first two games of the series.