Work in Sports
TORONTO (Ticker) -- First, the Ottawa Senators tried to lull Curtis Joseph to sleep. Then they tried an all-out assault. Neither tactic worked.
Joseph stopped 30 shots for his ninth career playoff shutout and Darcy Tucker's power-play goal broke a scoreless deadlock as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Senators, 2-0, in the opener of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
One of the top playoff goaltenders in the NHL, Joseph did not have to make a save for the first half of the opening period. But he turned aside eight shots in the first three minutes of the second as Ottawa threatened to take the lead.
"Sometimes, you want a few shots from the outside. Unfortunately, I didn't have them tonight," Joseph said. "You just have to be patient when they come and hopefully put the rebound in a good spot. They came out hard in the second, that was the key moment for us. Fortunately, we were able to keep it out."
Tucker, acquired on February 9 from lowly Tampa Bay, put the Maple Leafs ahead for good with 11:07 left in the second. Senators center Vaclav Prospal was penalized for interference at 7:26 and Toronto cashed in 87 seconds later.
Yanic Perreault threw a cross-ice pass to Tucker, who pushed a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle through defenseman Igor Kravchuk's legs and past goalie Tom Barrasso. It was the first career playoff goal for Tucker, whose last postseason appearance came with Montreal in 1997.
"I've come a long ways since my days in Montreal," Tucker said. "I played my heart out in Tampa Bay. I want to contribute to the hockey club any way I can. That makes me very proud inside. This dressing room is something I dreamed about as a kid growing up, and to score a game-winner, it's just ... I haven't stopped shaking since I got to the rink at 4 o'clock."
Joseph was at his best late in the second period. He stopped Magnus Arvedson's drive from the right circle and got lucky when the rebound went off the left goalpost with 1:42 left. Moments later, Joseph denied Marian Hossa on a 2-on-1 and stopped Joe Juneau's backhander on the rebound.
Joseph had luck on his side early in the third period. Hossa broke in ahead of the defense and deked Joseph to the ice before sliding a backhander just wide of the goalpost.
"I think Hossa could have tied the game," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin saqid. "He had him beat and the puck rolled off his stick."
Mats Sundin scored from the blue line into an empty net with 20.8 seconds remaining to seal the victory as Toronto won the opener for the first time in their last five playoff series.
"We survived, I'd say that," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "We weren't where we need to be. They beat us in a lot of areas tonight. Not the score, which is the ultimate thing, but we had to depend too much on Curtis to win the hockey game."
The Maple Leafs host Game Two on Saturday.
Barrasso finished with 19 saves for the Senators, who have lost their last eight postseason road games.
"It tough to win a game when you don't score any goals," Prospal said. "Joseph played well tonight, he shut the door for them. He may have been a bit lucky out there. He won the game, basically, for them."
Perreault suffered a left knee injury when checked into the boards by defenseman Jason York in the third period. The center could miss the rest of the postseason for the Leafs, who already are without injured defenseman Bryan Berard.
"It's going to be a great blow to us," Tucker said. "We'll have to rally around him. First Bryan, now him. It's been a tough year for us."