The Daily Sniper: News and notes from last night's action...
...Not quite dead.
Saturday night was for the Senators. It could have been the cool Canadian air, or just home cooking, but somewhere on the flight between Anaheim after Game two and last night, the Sens found their legs. Most importantly, they were able to find the back of the net. Anton Volchenkov scored the fifth and final goal for Ottawa as they took Game three by a score of 5-3. The Sens finally looked competitive and comfortable in the Finals. Even though Ray Emery was not the brick wall that he was in the first two games, it was the rest of the team that stepped up to draw the Sens within one game of tying the series. They will have the chance to do that on Monday.
Three times during the first two periods the Sens would rally to overcome a one goal deficit. That was a major problem they couldn't solve in the first two games of the series.
With under two minutes left in the second, Dean McAmmond would put his team ahead for good. The third period would be dominated by Ottawa, with Chris Pronger's hit on Dean McAmmond becoming the turning point. After Pronger put his left elbow into McAmmond's head, Chris Neil retaliated and a five-on-five brawl ensued.
It was almost as if Pronger's hit had completed the reawakening of everyone on the opposing bench. For two periods, the Senators were slowly regaining more and more of the form they had against Buffalo, but Pronger's hit finally gave Ottawa the energy they needed to make the pot boil over. To add to it all, the Ducks came unraveled. They forked over four third period power plays, stifling most of their chances to make a comeback. Volchenkov added insurance at the 8:22 mark to push Ottawa's lead to two goals, and they would never look back.
The biggest storyline from last night has nothing to do with how the Sens or Ducks played, but what the NHL front office will do about Pronger's hit on McAmmond. It's really not a matter of 'if' there will be a suspension, but rather the question is; 'how many games?' The hit looked worse than what Pronger did to Tomas Holmstrom in the Western Final, and it was. The hit was certainly no accident, and it left McAmmond unconsciously sprawled on the ice.
There's only one reason to not suspend Pronger; to continue the inconsistent officiating that we have seen throughout these playoffs. Pronger's hit on Holmstrom sent Pronger to the box and teammate Rob Niedermay to the showers, while last night's hit was dubbed 'clean' by the zebras. Case and point.