Leafs Comeback On Sick Sens
February 5, 2004
OTTAWA (AP) -- Down by four goals, the Toronto Maple Leafs mounted one of the most spectacular comebacks in recent club history to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4 on Owen Nolan's overtime goal Thursday night.
"A little bit of luck, a little bit of heart," said winning goalie Trevor Kidd. "We'll stick that in our back pocket."
The victory kept Toronto a point behind Eastern Conference leader Philadelphia and two points ahead of Boston in the Northeast Division going into the All-Star break.
A flu bug weakened the Senators, but Nolan, who also had the flu, showed no sympathy.
"I don't care," he said. "We're tired, too, and we battled back and we were down by four.
"I'm sure they have their excuses ready to go."
Mats and Alfie played big parts for their teams yet again. |
Nolan slapped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle to the right of goaltender Patrick Lalime. The puck lodged in the short side of the net with 30.7 seconds to go in the five-minute overtime.
Mats Sundin's goal with 5:03 remaining in the third period tied it 4-4. Lalime was faked out of his crease by Tomas Kaberle, who then set up Sundin for a shot into the vacated net.
Darcy Tucker, Mikael Renberg and Matt Stajan also scored for the Leafs. Kidd made 26 saves.
Goals by Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Havlat, Brian Pothier and Josh Langfeld staked Ottawa to a 4-0 lead. Lalime stopped 22 shots.
Ottawa lost leading scorer Marian Hossa when he was hit in the face by Ken Klee's shot and bled heavily. Hossa was helped off the ice and didn't return. He pulled himself out of the All-Star Game with a cut above the eye that required nine stitches.
The Senators' bench got even shorter by the end of the game as Chris Neil and Karel Rachunek left with the flu. Before the game, the Senators lost Wade Redden, also because of the flu.
Shane Hnidy, who also was battling symptoms, managed to play the entire game, but just barely. He hung towels around his neck between shifts.
"I've never seen anything like it," Senators defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn said. "I saw three guys getting intravenous.
"They brought in soup and rice just to try and get food into the guys. I saw players lying on couches with blankets wrapped around them before an NHL game. It's beyond comprehension."
But Alfredsson wasn't about to alibi.
"That's no excuse," the Ottawa captain said. "We went out there to try and keep it simple, but you could see at the end they had a lot more energy.
"It's really frustrating."
The Senators, looking to atone for a 5-1 loss in Toronto last Saturday, got the start they wanted. Ottawa scored 13 seconds into the game as Peter Schaefer made a cross-crease pass to Alfredsson.
Ottawa took advantage of a double minor to Aki Berg to pad its lead. During a mad scramble in front of Kidd, the puck came loose and Havlat roofed it.
The Senators made it 3-0 with their second power-play goal as Pothier scored from the point.
Ottawa made the Leafs pay once again for their undisciplined play early in the second as Langfeld scored the third power-play goal of the game.
The Leafs finally got going midway in the second period when Robert Reichel's shot went in off Tucker's skate.
Toronto cut it to 4-2 after a scramble behind the net. Renberg was left alone to beat Lalime on the short side.
The Leafs made it 4-3 after Nolan's shot trickled along the goal line. Before Lalime could kick out his pad, Stajan tapped it in.
The dislike between the teams sent the hype for this game so high it was like a playoff match. Leafs fans nearly outnumbered Senators supporters in the sellout crowd.
But nothing significant physically took place until Tie Domi and newly acquired Todd Simpson held a shoving match at the start of the second period.
The first full-fledged fight took place between Nathan Perrott and Neil before he left with the flu.
Notes: The Senators were without D Zdeno Chara (upper body), C Jason Spezza (knee), C Mike Fisher (elbow), D Anton Volchenkov (shoulder), LW Vaclav Varada (knee) and F Antoine Vermette (shoulder). ... The Leafs were without G Ed Belfour (back), C Joe Nieuwendyk (ribs), RW Alexander Mogilny (hip), D Wade Belak (knee) and C Tom Fitzgerald (ankle).