Anaheim Ducks centre Rob Niedermayer celebrates his first-period goal against Detroit Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek. (AP/Jerry Mendoza)
Rob passed to Scott, the puck was in the net 14:17 into overtime, and the Anaheim Ducks had a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday night, evening the series at a win apiece. "This is a big thrill for me," said Rob, who is used primarily as a defensive forward, but who scored himself earlier in the game. "Watching Scott score that winning goal was special."
The Ducks had the puck in a corner of the Detroit end when Sammy Pahlsson slid it to 33-year-old Rob Niedermayer.
"Two guys came at me and I heard Scott give me a yell, so I chipped it to him," said Rob. "He made a great shot."
The 34-year-old Scott Niedermayer took a wrist shot that struck the inside of the short-side post and lodged in the top corner of the net.
"Rob made a great little pass, a backhand pass, and I had time to make the shot," said Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim's captain. "I didn't really have anybody on me.
"I tried to get it up. I saw it hit the post, but I didn't see it go in."
More than 19,000 disappointed Red Wings fans sure saw it go in. They muttered their way towards the exits as the Niedermayer brothers celebrated on the ice.
"To be able to be on the same team pulling together, it's been fun," said Scott Niedermayer. "Teaming up for goals, that's neat, but just every day going to the rink together, it's fun."
The winning goal was their Mother's Day present to their mom, who was in Edmonton.
Scoring in regulation time for Anaheim besides Rob Niedermayer were his linemate Travis Moen and Andy McDonald. Countering for Detroit were Kirk Maltby, Nicklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk.
"It's certainly nice to chip in offensively," said Rob Niedermayer. "Our line is sort of asked to play a lot more defensive, shut down the other team's lines. Whenever we can, it's nice to chip in, for sure."
The series continues in California on Tuesday and Thursday.
Getting a split in the Motor City sends the Ducks home with their engines revving.
"It's huge," said McDonald. "This isn't an easy building to win in.
"We had a good effort in the first game and didn't get the result. We knew we had to come back and play solid and we came out really strong. There were a few mental lapses, like on their short-handed goal, but we responded well."
The Red Wings let a 3-2 third-period lead slip away. Now they have to play in an Anaheim rink where in their two regular-season games they lost 4-2 and 4-1.
"It's going to be tough," said Maltby. "They play well in their building and it's going to be loud, but we've been in that circumstance before through the course of the playoffs and we just have to worry about Game 3 and that's all we can do. We need to get off to a better start next game."
Anaheim was without Chris Kunitz, who supplied the goal in its 2-1 loss Friday, because the big left-winger hurt his left wrist in Game 1. He was wearing a cast on the forearm on Sunday.
In juggling his lines, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle moved Dustin Penner from the second to the first to take the place of Kunitz with McDonald and Teemu Selanne. Brad May was moved from the fourth to take the place of Penner alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
The Ducks led 1-0 after one period and could have been up by more.
Getzlaf made a nifty pass to set up Rob Niedermayer's goal. He had the puck at the side of the Detroit net and appeared to be going behind the net when he backhanded a pass to the front of the crease that Niedermayer flicked past a surprised Dominik Hasek at 17:04.
The Ducks continued to have an edge through the first half of the second period, but the tide turned when Maltby took a swing at his own rebound and put the puck behind Jean-Sebastien Giguere for a short-handed goal at 10:34.
McDonald quickly put Anaheim back in front when, out of a scramble, he found a bottom corner of the net with a shot at 11:40 for his team-high fifth goal of the playoffs. It took a video review to make it count as Hasek had covered the puck with his right leg pad along the goal-line.
The Red Wings regained the momentum at 16:07 on a power-play goal by Lidstrom. The four-time Norris Trophy winner glided to the middle of the zone before lifting a shot between Giguere's stick and the post. Giguere was screened and had no chance on the perfect shot by the Wings' Swedish captain.
"They're making us pay on their power play and it's something we're going to have to work out," said Scott Niedermayer.
The Red Wings had a two-man advantage to start the third with Chris Pronger and Sean O'Donnell in the penalty box, and Datsyuk put Detroit up 3-2 with a power-play goal at 1:03. Robert Lang delivered a cross-ice pass that Datsyuk slammed into the open side of the net for his team-best sixth of the post-season.
It was the first time a team got three goals on Giguere in his last nine playoff starts.
Anaheim tied it 3-3 at 5:06 after another video review proved the puck was in the net. Moen dove to poke at a rebound and he got credit for a goal after it was shown the puck was over the line on Hasek's pants as he slid into his net on his back.
It was the first time a team managed three goals on Hasek in his last eight starts in Joe Louis Arena.
The teams battled to the end of regulation time. Shots were 26-25 in Anaheim's favour through 60 minutes. It couldn't have been any closer.
It would take overtime to decide it, and the Ducks were best in sudden death. They had a 7-2 shots edge, and they had the Niedermayer brothers.
Notes: Maltby fell completely over the boards head first into the Ducks bench when he was hammered by Francois Beauchemin in the game's sixth minute . . . Anaheim fourth-line LW Shawn Thornton was hurt in the first period and could not continue. "We were down to 17 skaters," said Carlyle. "It taxed everybody." . . . Anaheim had in its lineup 15 Canadians, two Americans, one Finn, one Swede and one Russian, while Detroit used seven Canadians, six Swedes, two Czechs, two Russians, two Americans and one Finn . . . Canada's 4-2 win over Finland in the world tournament final Sunday in Russia put another feather in the cap of former Detroit captain Steve Yzerman, who served as GM of Hockey Canada's entry . . . Detroit acquired C Kris Draper in 1993 for future considerations when he was playing in the Winnipeg Jets organization. Senior VP Jimmy Devellano recalls the team sending the Jets a cheque for $1 . . . The 2006-2007 salaries of the 20 men dressed by Detroit totalled US$41.2 million. Anaheim's total was US$37.6 million . . . The highest-paid player in the game was Detroit d Nicklas Lidstrom, who earned US$7.6 million this season. Next were Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer, US$6.75 million, and Chris Pronger, US$6.25 million. Next was Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi, US$5.27 million . . . At the other end of the pay scale, Anaheim's Dustin Penner, Kent Huskins and Shawn Thornton got the league-minimum $US450,000 this season. Lowest-salaried Red Wing on the ice was Brett Lebda at US$550,000.