Peca, who has evolved from a defensive specialist into a 27-goal scorer, is handling everything impeccably now. With 55 seconds left in Game 1 and Ottawa pressing for the tying goal with six attackers, Peca cleanly beat Radek Bonk on the face-off in the circle to Hasek's left. Then, with fewer than 20 seconds remaining and Peca preparing for another face-off at the same dot, Ottawa coach Jacques Martin switched to Bruce Gardiner. Even if Gardiner had won the draw—he didn't—Ottawa would have had a fourth-liner with stone hands on the ice at a critical moment. "Peca," says coach Lindy Ruff, "dictated the game."
The lesson is that talent, unless it's mixed with grit and goal-tending, won't take you the first mile in the playoff marathon.