Work in Sports
KANATA, Ontario (Ticker) -- When Curtis Joseph shows he's human, he doesn't mess around.
After allowing the clinching goal late in the third period, Joseph risked a possible suspension with a comical tirade as the Ottawa Senators tightened the "Battle of Ontario" with a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Rob Zamuner's second goal of the game with 5:43 remaining gave the Senators a 4-2 lead and turned out to be the game-winner. He curled above the right faceoff circle and fired a slap shot past Joseph, who was bumped as Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson got tangled in front of the net with Toronto defenseman Cory Cross.
While referee Mick McGeough emphatically signaled goal, Joseph lost his cool. He shed his stick and catching glove before tossing his blocker as he charged from the net. He pursued McGeough into the corner but lost his balance and ended up submarining the referee, who fell onto Joseph.
"If I was going to attack a referee, which I would never do, I wouldn't slide into his feet and let him fall on top of me," said Joseph. "The thing that bothers me most is that I could see it but I couldn't save it. Now I've got to explain to my kids why I got so mad on the ice. There was contact, that's fine. But when it leads to a goal, it's very frustrating."
"Curtis was interfered with," added Toronto coach Pat Quinn. "It shouldn't have been a goal. That's the kind of thing we've been talking about all year long. Cross was trying to hold (Alfredsson) up. As a defenseman, you don't drive an opponent into your own goaltender. It's asinine even to suggest that's what happened."
Joseph drew a 10-minute misconduct but was allowed to stay in the game until he was pulled for an extra attacker. The move paid off when Jonas Hoglund scored off a rebound with 18 seconds left.
But Tom Barrasso and the Senators were able to hang on, reducing their deficit in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to two games to one. Ottawa, which ended an eight-game postseason losing streak, hosts Game Four on Wednesday.
"Our backs were against the wall," Zamuner said. "We got a big effort out of Tommy, he was amazing in net. Our first shift got us going. We showed some controlled emotion and we created traffic in front of Cujo, even though we didn't generate many shots."
After outshooting the Maple Leafs in a pair of road losses to open the series, Ottawa was on the short end of a 36-15 count in this contest.
But Barrasso was solid as the Senators built a 2-0 lead. He got his left pad on Tomas Kaberle's point shot, then smothered the dangerous Mats Sundin on the rebound midway through the first period.
By then, Alfredsson had given Ottawa its first lead of the series. The Senators had a two-man advantage when Igor Kravchuk faked a slapper from the top of the slot and passed to Alfredsson, who waited in the left circle before wristing the puck past Joseph.
"All year long, we outshot our opponents. It's ironic that we would win with this few shots," Alfredsson said. "I think we need to play better. We went out of our way too many times, taking ourselves out of the play. But collectively, we were ready. We were mentally prepared."
Barrasso protected the lead. He slid to cut off the right goalpost, denying Sergei Berezin on a partial breakaway in the final minute of the period. In the second, he made a sprawling right pad stop on Garry Valk and got lucky when Dmitri Khristich's point-blank shot off a rebound deflected off the left post.
"We had lots of emotion, sometimes misguided, but it got us going on the right track," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. "And our goaltending was the difference."
Zamuner doubled the Senators' lead at 9:44, banking the puck off Joseph and into the goal from the side of the net.
Toronto answered 19 seconds later as Steve Thomas put a rebound past Barrasso for his third goal of the series.
"They played a more physical hockey game tonight," Thomas said. "Scoring the first goal does a lot for a team. They got it and ran with it. We had to play catchup."
Berezin, not known for his backchecking, swept a loose puck off his own goal line with 6 1/2 minutes left in the second to keep the Leafs within one.
But Colin Forbes made it 3-1 at 5:27 of the third with his first career playoff goal. Shaun Van Allen poked a one-handed pass to Forbes, who drifted through the right circle and whipped a backhander under the crossbar.
Khristich again got Toronto within one just under five minutes later, converting a perfect centering pass from Darcy Tucker.
The Leafs lost rookie center Nik Antropov to a left leg injury in the first period. He joins teammates Bryan Berard, Sundin and Yanic Perreault, all of whom were injured during the season in Ottawa.
"We haven't had good fortune in this building," Quinn said. "It's a bit of a fluke, to say the least."