How Scott Niedermayer could have been The Man.

30 seconds left in the game, Scott Niedermayer and Sammy Pahlsson in a 2-on-1, Niedermayer to Pahlsson, back to Niedermayer, the shot!!

Hits the post!

OK, so he missed the game-winning goal by mere inches, but Scott Niedermayer was still the man (albeit in lower-case) on Sunday for…

• getting the loudest ovation BY FAR during the pregame roll call,
• getting applauded the first two times he touched the puck,
• spending 23:52 on the ice, more than all but three of his teammates, despite having not played an actual NHL game in six months … and despite losing his Samsonian playoff beard.

Significantly, he didn’t sound bothered about having “caused trouble,” i.e., the Andy McDonald trade, like which is exactly how he phrased it Saturday.

His postgame words:
“There’s no secrets when you’ve played a while. It was exactly what I expected. It would have been great to win the game. We could have done that, but it was a hard-fought game, an intense game, two pretty good teams playing hard and we didn’t have an opportunity in two games to get two points.

“I felt better. That was alright, getting the first one under your belt is always a big step for sure. The next two games back to back will be a big test. I’ve just got to be smart.

“Tonight was a game where we worked pretty hard. We did a lot of good things, made a few mistakes, had a few lulls in our intensity and you can’t have that. We just got to keep working, trying to build, eliminate those few things.

“We were right there. We had some opportunities to win that game. It’s a fine line when you’re playing a team like that. We understand that. A couple different things we could have done.

“I didn’t really have time to think about (that shot going in). Thought there was a chance it might go.

“Everybody likes to hear something like that (crowd response). I’ve enjoyed playing here. The fans have been great. Everyone’s been great. It’s very nice that they let you know you’re out there working hard, trying to help the team.

“It’s a tough game, but it’s a fun game, a big challenge to play a game like that. That’s why we do it.

“I guess we’ve talked about it as long as I’ve been here and this year as well – taking too many penalties. That obviously doesn’t help you.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.