Whatever can it mean? The Ottawa Senators come out and dominate the opening period as much, if not more than, any 20 minutes of hockey we've seen these playoffs - and come within .3 of a second of leaving the ice with nothing to show for it.
Up until that surprising end to the first period - with captain Daniel Alfredsson snapping home a behind-the-net pass from Peter Schaefer just as the horn was sucking in its wind to blow -- the temptation, among Nervous Nellie Ottawa fans, was to say this bodes poorly. An equal temptation, among Anaheim fans and more casual and uncommitted observers, is that this bodes well for the Ducks.
Amazing, isn't it, how much can happen in a second or less….
Once that second passed and the horn did blow, the relief in Scotiabank Place was palpable. It was as if justice had been served, for had the Senators left a period tied 0-0 when they should have been up 3-0 or 5-0 would have been confidence draining. Instead, the regained confidence held. Back on slicker, surer home ice, in front of a rambunctious crowd that did a far better rendition of the anthem than Alanis Morissette, they had returned to original form in the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Most impressive for the Senators, once again, was the penalty kill. They did not allow a single shot during Anaheim's one power play and, in fact, likely had possession of the puck considerably more than the Ducks on the power play.
In fact, the Ducks did not have a shot on the Ottawa net until the 11:29 mark of the opening period, an indication of just how stunningly dominant the Senators were at the opening of Game 4. That the Senators could not score, on the other hand, would seem to indicate that Anaheim goaltender J.S. Giguere, who had an off-night Saturday in the Senators 5-3 victory, was also back to playoff form. He seemed impenetrable until Alfredsson finally blew one into the far side on a Senators' power play to close the period.
A few notes from the opening period:
- Ottawa's Christoph Schubert was credited with only one hit. If they counted boards instead of people, he would lead the league. Three times Schubert pounded himself into the boards while missing targets. He's going to hurt himself if he doesn't watch out.
- Ottawa's best player this final round, centre Mike Fisher, appears to have found an overdrive on his gearbox. He was fast before. He seems faster than ever these games against Anaheim.
- Without Chris Pronger to boo every time he touches the puck - a joy denied the crowd by Pronger's one-game suspension for knocking Ottawa's Dean McAmmond out with an elbow in Game 3 - the crowd has turned on Anaheim team captain Scott Niedermayer. If booing Pronger (prior to the hit on McAmmond) made little sense, this makes even less.
- The power play that Ottawa scored on came off a penalty given to Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf for goaltender interference. While there's no denying Getzlaf ran over Ray Emery, he did so while twisting around the Ottawa defence and being surprised by Emery moving so far out of his crease that he was, in essence, a third defender.