Mike Fisher proves worthy guardian of
Sens' hockey Grail hopes
Senators 2, Leafs 1 (2OT)
OTTAWA (CP) -- At least half of Daniel Alfredsson's
latest prediction became reality Sunday night as the
Ottawa Senators set up a Game 7 date with the Toronto
Mike Fisher scored at 1:47 of double overtime to give
the Senators a 2-1 win and evened the best-of-seven
Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at 3-3.
Alfredsson boldly stated following Ottawa's dismal
performance in a 2-0 Game 5 loss on Friday that the
Senators would win Sunday and go on to win the series.
"We had a lot to prove, especially after Game
5," said Fisher, who re-directed rookie Antoine
Vermette's cross-crease pass behind Ed Belfour in the
"It was obviously big, one of the biggest goals
I've scored, but it was a whole team effort. I was just
lucky to get a bounce in front and bury it."
The Leafs squandered a first-period lead on a power-play
goal from Bryan McCabe, allowing Zdeno Chara to tie
it in the third and force overtime.
Game 7 will be played Tuesday in Toronto at Air Canada
"Our crowd will be with us," said Leafs coach
Pat Quinn. "Hopefully, we'll be a bit better than
we were tonight. We tried to sit on that 1-0 (lead)
a little too long. We just weren't relentless enough."
Toronto also wasted another spectacular effort by Belfour,
who finished with 44 saves.
"I'm not even sure what happened, it was sort
of a bang-bang play," said Belfour of Fisher's
winner. "It's a tough loss. We have to play better."
Patrick Lalime stopped 27 shots for Ottawa.
Belfour had recorded his third shutout of the playoffs
at the Air Canada Centre on Friday to put the Senators
on the brink of elimination and Ottawa's track record
when facing elimination wasn't good coming into Sunday.
It was just 2-7 all-time and its only wins came after
they rallied from a 3-1 deficit in last year's Eastern
Conference final against the New Jersey Devils -- a
series which they eventually lost in a seventh game
"We knew we had to just go out there and do our
best. I don't think we were too nervous about losing,"
said Alfredsson, who also correctly predicted the Senators
would end Belfour's two-game shutout streak before Game
4 of the series.
They did, and came out with a 4-1 win.
The Leafs played without captain Mats Sundin for the
second straight game because of an undisclosed lower-body
injury. Rookie Matt Stajan filled in for him as he had
in Game 5.
Quinn said Sundin is still doubtful for Tuesday's game.
Meanwhile, the Senators made a lineup change when they
scratched centre Jason Spezza and replaced him with
Vermette. Spezza had no points and was a minus-1 in
The move was a big one as Vermette beat Leafs defenceman
Aki Berg before cycling in front and setting up Fisher
on the winner.
"As a coach, you need to go with your feelings,"
said Senators coach Jacques Martin of the lineup switch.
"I just felt we needed a change."
The loss was the first for Toronto in the five playoff
meetings with Ottawa that have gone to overtime.
"We'll put that one behind us and get ready for
Tuesday," said McCabe. "We had our chances
(but) that's the way it goes in a playoff series. You
have your ups and downs."
It had been a good night for Leaf Nation, which filled
about half of the arena. Peter Bondra took a double
minor for high-sticking after he cross-checked Darcy
Tucker in the face at 1:39 into the game.
Greg de Vries compounded the problem over a minute
later by triping Joe Nieuwendyk and, with a two-minute
5-on-3 advantage, McCabe's intended pass banked off
the skate of Brian Pothier and through Lalime's legs
to make it 1-0 at 4:14.
Then, at 4:55 of the third and after more than five
periods without a goal, Chara spoiled Belfour's bid
to become the first goaltender in NHL history to record
four shutouts in the same playoff series when he circled
the net and fired a shot that snuck in the short side.
© Copyright 2004 The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
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