Anaheim Ducks Travis Moen (32) celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal. (CP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson)
Moen's goal with 2:51 remaining lifted the Ducks to a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. It was a well-earned victory for the Ducks, who outshot the Senators 32-20. Andy McDonald and Ryan Getzlaf scored Anaheim's other goals.
On the winner, Rob Niedermayer passed from the side of the net and Moen slapped at the bouncing puck, sending it into a bottom corner of the Ottawa net behind goalie Ray Emery and lifting the capacity crowd of 17,274 out of the Honda Center seats.
"It's huge," said the 25-year-old Moen. "I think every kid dreams of scoring a goal to win a game in the Stanley Cup final. It's someting special, something I'll never forget."
Mike Fisher and Wade Redden scored power-play goals for the Senators.
Game 2 is Wednesday. Senators coach Bryan Murray knows his team will have to be better then.
"They had the majority of the (scoring chances) and their checking line wound up getting the winning goal," he said. "That was the game in a nutshell."
The Senators turned the puck over too often, said Murray.
"That makes it a tough road in this building."
The team winning Game 1 has gone on to win the NHL championship in 52 of 67 seasons (77.6 per cent) since the introduction of the best-of-seven format.
The Senators had won their openers in all three earlier rounds and they jumped to a quick lead.
Fisher scored at 1:38 with Scott Niedermayer off for high-sticking. Jean-Sebastien Giguere got a piece of the shot from the circle to his right, the puck popped high into the air, and it fell just inside the goal-line.
Ottawa's conversion rate on power plays on the road during the playoffs has been spectacular. Fisher's goal was the 11th in 33 chances.
The Senators scored first in eight of their previous 15 playoff games, and they won all eight.
The Ducks intensified their forechecking and McDonald tied it at 10:55. Teemu Selanne knocked down a clearing attempt by Redden and fed McDonald, who planted a great shot in a top corner of Emery's net.
Anaheim dominated the remainder of the period, throwing bodies at everything that moved and pelting Emery with shots. After being outshot 4-1 in the early going, the Ducks had an 8-4 lead on the shots counter after 20 minutes.
"I thought as the game went along we wore their defence down a little bit," said McDonald.
The Senators, looking for their legs nine days after eliminating Buffalo, had to be happy to get to the first intermission in a tie.
The second period has been their best all spring. They'd outscored opponents 21-9, and they continued their strong play in the middle period by regaining the lead on a power-play goal by Redden at 4:36. A long shot went over a kneeling Giguere's right shoulder. He'd lost his stick. The goal made up for Redden's earlier miscue.
The Ducks were then lucky to survive a two-man disadvantage that lasted 95 seconds.
Shots were 10-10 in the period. The Senators were in the driver's seat. They'd had won nine of 10 games they led after two periods this spring.
They were skating faster now than they were in the opening 20 minutes and their passing was crisper, although the top line of Jason Spezza between Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley struggled against the checking of Sammy Paulsson, Moen and Rob Niedermayer. Spezza, in particular, wasn't near top form.
Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov jumped back onto the ice every time Anaheim's line of Getzlaf between Corey Perry and Dustin Penner was used, and the two big Ottawa defencemen were standouts.
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray was using his Mike Comrie-Fisher-Peter Schaeffer unit against the McDonald-Selanne-Drew Miller line.
Getzlaf broke loose to tie it 2-2 at 5:44 of the third. The six-foot-three centre had the puck on his forehand to the left of Emery and fooled the goalie by pulling it to his backhand and slipping it through Emery's feet. The play started with a neutral zone giveaway by Redden.
The goal got the Ducks going again.
Emery made a huge save on a Moen shot in the 11th minute, and then Andrej Meszaros took a second straight Ottawa penalty. The Ducks' power play shot blanks for the fourth time.
Ottawa got a sixth manpower advantage when Scott Niedermayer was nabbed for hooking at 13:08 and a seventh when McDonald was penalized with 42 seconds left. The Senators got close but could not put another puck behind Giguere.
Notes: The Honda Center sold out for the 32nd consecutive Ducks game . . . LW Oleg Saprykin was a healthy scratch by Ottawa for the second game in a row . . . LW Shawn Thornton got back into Anaheim's lineup in place of Joe Motzko, who had taken Thornton's place the previous two games . . . Players on both teams average six-foot-one in height and are nearly identical in average weight - Anaheim 204 and Ottawa 206 pounds. The Senators are slightly younger at an average age of 27.4 years to the Ducks' 28.5 . . . Anaheim's Rob and Scott Niedermayer are the first brothers to appear in the final as teammates since Philadelphia's Rich and Ron Sutter in 1985 . . . Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped the ceremonial first puck . . . Kelsey Scott, a longtime Ducks fan and season ticket holder, sang the Canadian anthem and Stephen Stills, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame singer/songwriter performed the U.S. anthem . . . The referees were Paul Devorski of Guelph, Ont., and Dan O'Halloran of Essex, Ont . . . The Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 1 in 2004 and rebounded to win the title . . . The Ducks are attempting to become the first West Coast-based team to win the Stanley Cup since the Victoria Cougars of the Western Canada Hockey League defeated the Montreal Canadiens in 1925 . . . Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller was on hand to watch his brother, Drew, skate for the Ducks . . . Only two players in the series own Stanley Cup rings: Anaheim defenceman Scott Niedermayer has three from his days with the New Jersey Devils, and backup Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber got one last spring with the Carolina Hurricanes . . . Celebrities in the crowd included Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. and Five For Fighting lead singer John Ondrasik.