2003 NHL Playoffs 2003 NHL Playoffs

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New York 3, Ottawa 0
Posted: Thursday April 10, 2003 11:50 AM
New York Islanders
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Ottawa Senators
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OTTAWA (Ticker) -- Fans at the Corel Centre started off booing a familiar antagonist. They ended up booing the home team.

Garth Snow made 25 saves for his first career playoff shutout and Dave Scatchard and Alexei Yashin scored in the opening 12 minutes as the New York Islanders surprised the top-seeded Ottawa Senators, 3-0, in Game One of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Snow turned aside six shots in each of the first two periods and 13 in the third to raise his postseason record to 9-4. He helped the Islanders kill seven power plays, during which the Senators managed just six shots.

Ottawa was the prohibitive favorite in this best-of-seven series after capturing the Presidents' Trophy with a team-record 113 points, 30 more than New York. Before the series, Islanders coach Peter Laviolette made the bold statement that his was the better team, and it looked that way in the opener.

"Although we struggled down the stretch, I had a comfort level, knowing we would compete tonight based on our last game here," Laviolette said.

Senators' fans jeered Yashin every time he touched the puck, still remembering his season-long holdout while with Ottawa in 1999-2000. By the second period, however, they were booing during and after a power play on which the Senators mustered one harmless shot.

"When it's the first game you play at home, the fans expect you to win," former Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "Sometimes you have to face that. We can't be concerned with that. We have to keep our focus for next game."

The Islanders had a 3-0 lead and total control by the time the booing started. Scatchard banked a shot off the leg of goaltender Patrick Lalime at 7:59 of the first period and Yashin made it 2-0 just over 3 1/2 minutes later.

Shawn Bates capped the scoring on the power play midway through the second as New York stole home-ice advantage.

"We knew they would come out hard, so we wanted to get a good start and quiet their fans," Scatchard said. "We blocked shots and dove to poke pucks away. We basically played playoff hockey."

Game Two is Saturday in Ottawa.

"I'm not concerned about the fans. We have great fans here," Senators coach Jacques Martin said. "This is one of those games we have to put behind us. I know we can play a lot better."

Both teams were down a man when Scatchard scored the only goal Snow needed. From behind the net on the right side, he tried to feed Jason Blake in front. But the puck hit Lalime and sneaked inside the right goalpost.

"When I went in, I just wanted to get a shot on net," Scatchard said. "I thought it wasn't a difficult shot for Lalime, but he was leaning a bit off the post and it deflected off his glove and went in."

Moments after an Islanders' power play expired, defenseman Roman Hamrlik's right point shot hit teammate Randy Robitaille in front of the net. Robitaille gathered the deflection in the low slot and slid it to Yashin, who shoved the puck into a half-empty net.

"Yashin played a strong game with heart and desire, which inspired me," Laviolette said.

"The whole bench was inspired by Yashin's work effort and we all played hard for the entire game," Scatchard added.

One of the NHL's quickest teams, Ottawa had trouble keeping up with the Islanders and was outshot, 23-12, over the first two periods.

"We definitely outskated them," Blake said. "The big thing is we were in their face, we tried to get the puck by hitting the body. We had to slow them down because they're a skilled team. We have some goal-scorers, too, but the most important thing is that on every shift, we play the body."

"It seems like we didn't have any spark tonight," said Lalime, who made 31 saves. "We just have to play our game and not focus so much on the players on the other team. We have to go out there and do the things we've been doing successfully all year."

Any Senators' hopes for a third-period comeback vanished when Bates tipped defenseman Adrian Aucoin's wrist shot from the blue line past Lalime with 10:54 to play.

"The first two periods, I didn't see much action," Snow said. "I think it was one of our better efforts all season. ... We can still get a lot better."

Chris Neil woke up the crowd with just under nine minutes remaining when he leveled Yashin along the left boards. In the final minute, Eric Godard got even with a high-stick to Neil's mouth, drawing a double-minor.

"I'm sore, I took a lot of physical, tough play, but that's part of the game," Yashin said. "If they want to continue to key on me, that's fine."