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Ottawa 4, Philadelphia 2
Posted: Saturday April 26, 2003 02:05 AM
Philadelphia Flyers
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Ottawa Senators
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OTTAWA (Ticker) -- At least the Philadelphia Flyers proved they can score on Patrick Lalime.

Marian Hossa had a goal and two assists as the Ottawa Senators erased a two-goal deficit and posted a 4-2 victory over the Flyers in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

After scoring just two goals in last season's five-game quarterfinal loss to Ottawa, the Flyers matched that total less than 11 minutes into the game with tallies on their first two shots.

Seven days after eliminating the New York Islanders in five games, Lalime shook off the rust and was impenetrable thereafter, stopping the last 23 shots he faced.

The Senators aided Lalime by storming out in the second period and scoring three times in a 6:58 span. Captain Daniel Alfredsson's power-play goal put Ottawa ahead, 3-2, at 9:32.

Hossa posted his best career playoff performance, evening the game with his fourth postseason goal before setting up Ottawa's final two tallies.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara added a goal and an assist for the Senators, who improved to 2-11 all-time in the playoffs when trailing after one period.

Tony Amonte and Sami Kapanen scored for Philadelphia, which allowed just two shots in both the first and third periods.

Game Two is Sunday in Ottawa.

Coming off a grueling seven-game quarterfinal series against Toronto that included three multi-overtime contests, the Flyers appeared no worse for wear at the start.

Just 79 seconds into the game, Amonte took a feed from Jeremy Roenick in the neutral zone, cut across the blue line and wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle that sailed over Lalime's left shoulder.

It was Amonte's first postseason goal since scoring for Chicago on April 26, 1997 against Colorado, a span of 13 games.

Ottawa recorded its first shot - and just the second of the game - at 7:59, when rookie defenseman Anton Volchenkov's wrister easily was stopped by Roman Cechmanek. But the Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead on the next shot.

Roenick drifted toward the net from the left boards before losing control of the puck. While sliding to block a potential shot, defenseman Karel Rachunek inadvertently pushed the puck to Kapanen, who snapped it from the left circle past Lalime's glove side at 10:48.

"They were some nice shots," Lalime said. "They got some good scoring chances, they put it in right off the bat. We were a little rusty, I think, in the beginning. ... Just like against the Islanders, we didn't come out that strong."

"They made some good plays to score their two goals," Alfredsson added. "It looked really dark at the time, but we felt fresh."

Limited to one more shot the rest of the period, the Senators wasted little time in the second showing why they were the regular season's best team.

Off a give-and-go with Bryan Smolinski, Martin Havlat wristed a shot from the top of the slot that glanced off defenseman Kim Johnsson's right skate and slipped between Cechmanek's pads at 2:34 to halve the deficit.

"I was able to get Marty a pass," Smolinski said. "He's a very creative guy and anytime you can get the puck to him or Hoss, they're gonna do some damage."

Justin Williams' backhand chance from low in the right circle at 4:21 was denied by Lalime, allowing Hossa to draw Ottawa even with a brilliant individual effort just over a minute later.

After circling the Flyers' zone with the puck and making a pass, Hossa parked himself at the left side of the net. When defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn's shot hit Johnsson, Hossa pounced on it and put a backhander under Cechmanek near the left goalpost at 5:33.

"We know we didn't have a good start, we were sleepy and rusty," Hossa said. "We know we couldn't get any worse, we could only get better. We then started to play a simple game by putting the puck in deep and outskating them."

Philadelphia's fortunes hit bottom when Ottawa needed just four seconds to convert a power-play chance and take the lead.

After rookie defenseman Jim Vandermeer was sent to the penalty box for tripping, Hossa grabbed the puck off the faceoff and backhanded it to Alfredsson. From the top of the slot, the Senators' all-time leading playoff scorer put a low wrist shot through a screen and past Cechmanek's stick side at 9:32, completing the comeback.

"It was a good play by Hoss and I was able to pick my spot," Alfredsson said. "It feels great scoring, especially turning out to be the game-winner."

"We made two or three mistakes and their skilled guys took advantage of it," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They had that fluke goal and that dribbler for their second goal. Then the race was on and they beat us with a quick goal. We just need Roman to be better in the next game, and he will be."

Ottawa had several chances to pad the lead in the second but were thwarted.

While on a power play with 8 1/2 minutes left, defenseman Wade Redden cut in from the point to deposit a loose puck into an open net. But Philadelphia captain Keith Primeau dived to knock it into the corner.

"The second period, they found their legs and we weren't able to contain them the way we're capable of," Primeau said.

Five minutes later, Cechmanek stopped Vaclav Varada on a breakaway with two right pad saves, while defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich cleared the rebound of Havlat's shot away from Varada, who was staring at an open left side of the net with 17 seconds to go.

Looking tired and demoralized, the Flyers mustered a few scoring chances midway through the third but could not get anything by Lalime.

Primeau completed a lead pass to Williams on a partial 2-on-1 with 14:14 left, but Lalime slid across the crease to make the save.

With nine minutes remaining, Radek Bonk carried down the right side and around the net before Cechmanek covered the puck in the crease. Off the ensuing faceoff, John LeClair led a rush and fed Michal Handzus, whose shot from the slot was gloved by Lalime.

"There's no doubt they're a tired team," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. "I think they felt their tired effects after their first series. It really gave us the opportunity to get the rust out of us in the first period. After that, we played a lot better and took the game over."

Chara put the finishing touches on the victory with his first career playoff tally.

After Hossa circled the net, he fed Chara in the low slot. The towering defenseman's shovel shot hit the left post before bouncing off Cechmanek's right skate and trickling over the goal line. Kapanen tried to drag the puck back, but replay officials upheld Ottawa's 4-2 advantage.

"I saw my shot hit the post and then come out a little bit, bounce off the ice and behind the goalie, and the puck was in," Chara said. "When I heard the horn from upstairs, I knew it was in."

"It won't be hard to bounce back," LeClair said. "We know where we have to go from here. It's a long series, you can't feel sorry for yourselves. You have to pick yourself up and get ready for Sunday."

Ottawa survived a scare with five minutes left when Lalime collided with Claude Lapointe in the right circle, taking a shoulder to the head and laying motionless on the ice before making a quick recovery and finishing the game.

"I didn't see the way he did it, I was just looking at the puck and I knew I had to race to get it," Lalime said. "It was a good hit, just one of those where you get your head shaken a little bit. I guess you've got to take a hit to make a play. ... I didn't feel that good after, but it's just part of the game."

"We were both going for the puck fast," Lapointe said. "I couldn't avoid him. Unfortunately, it was the goalie, but there was nothing I could do."

 


 
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