2001 Stanley Cup Finals
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NHL Hockey Scoreboard: Recap
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Toronto 1, Ottawa 0
Posted: Saturday April 14, 2001 12:15 AM
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Ottawa Senators
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OTTAWA (Ticker) -- Maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs are built for the postseason.

Toronto drew first blood in the "Battle of Ontario" as Mats Sundin scored 10:49 into overtime for a 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game One of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

With Curtis Joseph stopping everything that came his way, Sundin finished a hectic overtime by blasting a slap shot past Patrick Lalime from the top of the left faceoff circle.

"As a kid, you dream about scoring overtime goals," Sundin said. "It feels great and we'll take the win."

"It was a heartbreaker, for sure," Lalime said. "I just saw it at the last second. But it's good for us to play back-to-back games. We can look forward to getting right back at it tomorrow."

The goal sent the seventh-seeded Maple Leafs into hysterics. They haven't had much to get excited about, struggling late in the regular season before clinching a playoff berth in their penultimate game.

Toronto also lost all five meetings with its Northeast Division rival, including one in overtime.

"We were a lot better tonight then we were all season against Ottawa," Sundin said. "We battled hard and played a disciplined game."

Some argue that Toronto was built for the playoffs, having signed veterans such as Gary Roberts and Shayne Corson to toughen up a team that lost in the second round last season.

"Aside from great goaltending, playoffs are about winning little battles," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "When there's no room out there, you need to be ready for your opportunities."

The toughness could be a factor against the second-seeded Senators, who have won just one series in four previous playoff appearances.

Leafs enforcer Tie Domi set the tone for a physical game in the first period. But that represented most of the action over 60 minutes as Joseph and Lalime matched each other save for save.

The opening five minutes of overtime was played at a frenetic pace, with end-to-end rushes keeping fans at the Corel Centre on the edge of their seats.

But Sundin nailed Senators center Alexei Yashin in the defensive zone 8:33 into overtime and scored the game-winner just over two minutes later.

The play seemed relatively harmless, especially since Lalime was sharp in making 26 saves to that point. But Sundin waited for a teammate and eased his way into the zone before beating Lalime with a slapper.

"I was almost going to change, then Stumpy (Steve Thomas) yelled to tell me he was going to pass it," Sundin said. "I got the puck, took two strides and shot it. Then I heard it go off the post and I saw the red light go on."

It was the 23rd postseason goal for Sundin, Toronto's captain who epitomized his team's late-season struggles, scoring once in his last nine games. He led the team with 74 points.

Thomas assisted on the goal for the Leafs, who won the best-of-seven quarterfinal series with the Senators in six games last year when they were the third seed.

Among their four wins in last season's series was a 2-1 overtime victory in Game Five at Toronto.

"It's just Game One," Joseph said. "You can't put too much stock in it. It's not the series. We'll be back out there in less that 24 hours to go at it again."

With the Leafs struggling, the Senators were considered mild favorites in this series. They battled New Jersey for the best record in the East most of the season before settling for the second seed.

But Ottawa could not penetrate Joseph, one of the best goalies in the NHL who finished with 36 saves for his 10th career postseason shutout.

"I thought we played real well as a team," Joseph said. "A lot of blocked shots, not a lot of rebounds. The guys were great in front of me.

"This game could've gone either way and there will be some swings both ways yet, but obviously this is big for us."

The Leafs nearly gave Joseph a 1-0 lead 5:33 into the third period when Lalime batted Sergei Berezin's slap shot over his shoulder and Nik Antropov tapped it in the net.

But referees immediately went to a video review, which showed Antropov touch the puck with a high stick before it dipped under the crossbar.

That was the closest either team came to scoring in regulation as most of the action was away from the puck.

With 4:38 left in the first period, Domi drilled Martin Havlat at center ice, shortly after the Senators rookie passed the puck. Havlat laid motionless and missed the rest of the period.

The Leafs also abused Lalime, who was clobbered by Bryan McCabe on a drive to the net midway through the second period and was left face first on the ice.

 

   
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