A disputed goal, an own goal and a nasty hit marked the Senators' rebirth in the Stanley Cup final with a rousing 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.
Anaheim still leads the best of seven series 2-1 going into Game 4 on Monday night, but Ottawa showed it won't go down without a fight.
Daniel Alfredsson scored the tying goal off his foot at 16:14 of the second period on a power play and Dean McAmmond was awarded the game-winner when his pass was put into the net by Anaheim defenceman Chris Pronger's errant clearing attempt 2:20 later.
But while past Ottawa clubs may have wilted when Pronger dazed McAmmond with a forearm shiver to the head on a rush 2:03 into the third frame, these Senators hit back.
Moments later, when Ryan Getzlaf cross-checked Chris Neil from behind, a melee broke out that signalled Ottawa's determination to finish off a game in which they outhit the physical Ducks 32-26.
"We can play physical and we can play with the puck," said Alfredsson. "We can handle any situation.
"It was a character game because we came back a few times."
The status of both McAmmond, who could miss Game 4 with a head injury, and Pronger, who faces a possible suspension, may be determined Sunday.
The Ducks held one-goal leads three times, but the Senators, who managed only 36 total shots in two feeble losses to start the series in Anaheim, erased each deficit while outshooting the Ducks 29-22.
And after riding its top line for most of the playoffs, Ottawa had goals from all four lines - a must, with the Alfredsson-Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza trio managing few chances for a third straight game against strict attention from the Anaheim defence.
The Ducks' questionable discipline also was evident as the Senators spent 10:59 on the power play to only 2:23 for Anaheim.
Chris Neil, who hit every Duck in sight throughout the match, scored in the first period, Mike Fisher had one in the second and defenceman Anton Volchenkov scored an insurance goal at 8:22 of the third for Ottawa.
Andy McDonald, Corey Perry and Getzlaf scored for Anaheim, whose coach Randy Carlyle acknowledged his team was outplayed.
"They outworked us - it's as simple as that," said Carlyle. "We played nowhere near our capabilities.
"But as poorly as we played, we still had a chance to win."
Alfredsson's goal stood up after a long video review after he reached back with a skate to redirect Wade Redden's point shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The goal was initially waved off, but replay officials saw otherwise.
Carlyle didn't dispute the call, although he felt it was kicked in.
Alfredsson said that "to me, I felt I never kicked the puck. I was confident it was going to be a goal."
More damaging was McAmmond's game-winner, the result of dogged checking in the Anaheim zone by the veteran fourth-line centre that left Pronger the goat.
"I can't worry about that," said Pronger. "I'm in the right spot and it just bounced off me.
"It's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last, but it certainly was not a good situation."
Concerning his hit on McAmmond - which saw the Senators forward bounce his head off the ice before sliding to the corner and lying motionless for a few moments - Pronger said he was just finishing his check and added: "I don't really know what happened after that."
No penalty was called on the play, but it had the Senators calling for a suspenion. Pronger was suspended for Game 4 of the Western Conference final against Detroit for bouncing Tomas Holmstrom's head off the glass.
"I can't for the life of me understand how it was missed by four officials," said coach Bryan Murray. "I don't want to complain, but it was an obvious call."
It was yet another moment of high emotion for the sell-out crowd of 20,500, which witnessed a gripping match with end-to-end action and several momentum shifts.
The first Stanley Cup final game in Ottawa in 80 years saw the Senators skate out to their loudest crowd of the playoffs thus far.
There was plenty of energy, but also a case of nerves as Ray Emery needed to make a big glove save off Dustin Penner from the low slot only two minutes into the game.
McDonald scored on a power play at 5:39 when he was set up alone in front by Teemu Selanne to beat Emery, who had lost his stick, with a wrist shot inside the right post.
It was the first power-play goal allowed by Ottawa in nine attempts in the series.
Ottawa stepped up the pressure late in the period and Neil was on the doorstep to bang Chris Kelly's pass just over the line to tie it at 16:10. The goal came one day after Neil celebrated the birth of his first child.
"It was amazing," was about all Neil could say.
Perry came out from behind the net to slide one between Emery's pads 5:20 into the second period, but Fisher got it back 27 seconds later when he deflected Volchenkov's point shot.
Getzlaf pounded a big rebound from the slot past Emery at 12:22 for a 3-2 lead. The Getzlaf-Perry-Penner line now has 35 points in 19 playoff games.
Notes: With Chris Kunitz's return after missing seven games with a broken finger, Drew Miller sat out for Anaheim. Kunitz only lasted until the second period before leaving with a lower body injury. ... Ottawa made no changes from its Game 2 lineup. ... Surviving members of the Montreal Canadiens team that won five straight Cups from 1956 to 1960 received a nice ovation when introduced on the scoreboard in the first period. They were honoured by the NHL at a dinner Friday night. Art Ross trophy winner Sidney Crosby, Rocket Richard winner Vincent Lacavalier and Jennings winners Manny Fernandez and Niklas Backstrom sat with them. ... Russell Williams, a 99-year-old fan who watched the Senators win the Cup in 1927, was given a standing ovation when introduced in the second period.