Leafs Looking To Pull Even
GAME: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinals; Senators lead 1-0.
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT.
The Ottawa Senators head into Game 2 of their quarterfinal series against the Toronto Maple Leafs feeling pretty good about themselves after stealing the home-ice advantage away from arguably their biggest rival.
Ottawa, however, is not at all satisfied.
The fifth-seeded Senators look to take a 2-0 series lead back to Ottawa when they meet the fourth-seeded Leafs at Air Canada Centre.
Besides knowing it went 1-4-1 against the Leafs in the regular season, Ottawa entered Thursday's Game 1 unsure it would have starting goalie Patrick Lalime available.
And after being eliminated by Toronto in each of their last three playoff meetings, the Senators wanted to get this series off to a good start.
They did just that on Thursday.
Marian Hossa scored twice and Lalime returned from a knee injury that kept him out of the final four games of the regular season to make 15 saves as Ottawa won 4-2 to gain the home-ice advantage in the series.
"Now that we have one we want the next one as well," said Lalime, who went 25-23-7 with a 2.29 goals-against average this season. "We know it's going to be tougher than tonight. We'll have to play a lot better."
Bryan Smolinski and Wade Redden both scored, and Martin Havlat had two assists for the Senators, who came within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup finals last season.
"You don't win the series in the first game. I've seen in the past where other teams come into the visiting building and say they just want to win one game, but now we want to win a second game," Smolinski said.
Toronto took a 2-1 lead heading into the second period, but Calle Johansson and Bryan McCabe received penalties before Redden tied it 2-2 for Ottawa at 10:02 of the period. Hossa scored the go-ahead goal just 38 seconds later.
The Senators went 2-for-8 on the power-play.
"We were in the box the whole night. You can't create offense when you're killing penalties," McCabe said.
Toronto coach Pat Quinn came away impressed by Ottawa.
"That's the best checking game they've played against us all year," Quinn said. "We couldn't get the puck through the middle of the ice without giving them a good counter situation.
"We know that's their strength, but we couldn't do anything about it."
McCabe and Joe Nieuwendyk scored for the Leafs, an Original Six team that hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1967.
The series moves to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday.HOW THEY GOT HERE: Senators - 102 points, 5th seed; Maple Leafs - 103 points, 4th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Hossa, 2 goals; Havlat, 2 assists; Hossa and Havlat, 2 points; Mike Fisher, 4 PIM. Maple Leafs - McCabe and Nieuwendyk, 1 goal; four with 1 assist; six with 1 point; Gary Roberts and Mikael Renberg, 4 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Senators - Power play: 25.0 percent (2 for 8). Penalty killing: 66.7 percent (2 for 3). Maple Leafs - Power play: 33.3 percent (1 for 3). Penalty killing: 75.0 percent (6 for 8).
GOALTENDERS: Senators - Lalime (1-0, 2.00 GAA); Martin Prusek (no appearances). Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (0-1, 4.00); Trevor Kidd (no appearances).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 4-1-1. Toronto punctuated its victory in the series with a 6-0 win on April 3 in the teams' season finale. Toronto's domination of the Senators came after it won just three times in the previous 16 regular-season meetings. Lalime went 0-3 with 3.80 GAA against Toronto this season, while Belfour went 3-0-1 with a 0.98 GAA and a shutout in the series
-- Associated Press