Sunday, May 05, 2002

Maple Leafs 3, Senators 2, 3OT

AP Sports Writer

        TORONTO — Gary Roberts was still kicking himself for missing on a 2-on-1 break when another scoring opportunity presented itself.

        This one he buried, 4:30 into the third overtime, giving Toronto a 3-2 victory over Ottawa on Saturday night to end the third longest game in Maple Leafs history.

        With the teams playing 4-on-4, Roberts got to a loose puck off a faceoff in the Ottawa zone and fired a wrist shot between goalie Patrick Lalime's pads to tie the Eastern Conference semifinal series 1-1.

        Roberts admitted he couldn't remember much of his goal. What he couldn't forget was his chance three minutes earlier.

        “I was going to take the blame for that,” said Roberts, discouraged because it led directly to a Marian Hossa breakaway the other way.

        Fortunately, Curtis Joseph made the save.

        Joseph silenced his critics, stopping 54 shots. Travis Green and Darcy Tucker also scored for the Maple Leafs, coming off a discouraging 5-0 series-opening loss.

        Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is at Ottawa on Monday.

        Sami Salo and Mike Fisher scored for the Senators, who fell short after rallying back from a 2-0 deficit.

        “We showed a lot of good things tonight being down 2-0,” said Lalime, who stopped 39 shots. “Our goal was to come here and get one. We sure did that so I think there is a lot of positives. We'll go right back at it on Monday.”

        The three goals were the most Lalime's given up in a game this postseason, in which he has already tied a record with four shutouts. Before Saturday, Lalime had stopped 162 of 164 shots he faced, including 27 in Thursday's series-opening 5-0 win.

        Green's goal 4:46 into the game ended Lalime's shutout streak at 128 minutes, 16 seconds.

        “It was too bad Lalime was on the losing end,” said Wade Redden. “It was a tough way to lose. We came back with two goals. We had our chances but we couldn't put them away.”

        The game was well short of the Toronto franchise record of 164 minutes, 46 seconds set in a 1-0 victory over Boston in 1933. It was by far the longest game in Senators playoff history, eclipsing the previous mark of 90:35 set in a 3-2 loss to Buffalo on April 23, 1999.

        It was also the longest game in the NHL since a Stanley Cup final game between Dallas and New Jersey went 106:21 on June 8, 2000.

        The longest overtime game in playoff history went 176 minutes, 30 seconds as Detroit beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 on March 24-25, 1936.

        “In those type of games you go finish your shift, go to the bench and get your air, regroup and go back out there,” said Roberts. “In those games, mentally you get tired and that's when you make mistakes.”

        Both teams showed plenty of stamina in trading scoring opportunities down the stretch.

        Ottawa's Chris Neil, on a wraparound, had put the puck in the net 8:54 into the second overtime, but it was immediately disallowed because the goal posts had been dislodged.

        Two minutes later, Tucker hit a shot off the post, the second one the Maple Leafs rang off the iron in the game.

        The win gives the Maple Leafs a huge mental boost.

        “We have to build on it,” coach Pat Quinn said. “We didn't like our first game very much. Tonight we were a little better, but not as good as we'd like to be or need to be.”

        Roberts said he's not going to celebrate his first career OT goal for too long.

        “My main focus is to enjoy it right now, but realize the series is 1-1,” Roberts said. “We're up against a real tough hockey club, and hopefully I can score a few more.”

        Notes: Maple Leafs RW Garry Valk did not play because of a groin injury. Also not dressed was RW Alexei Ponikarovsky. In their places were LW Bob Wren, who played in his first career NHL playoff game, and D Anders Eriksson. Both were called up from Toronto's St. John's, Newfoundland, farm club. ... Before giving up Green's game-opening goal, Lalime had allowed one goal over a span of 312-minutes, 9 seconds. ... Maple Leafs D Jyrki Lumme did not return after taking a heavy hit into the boards in the first period. Quinn said Lumme sustained a cut on the back of his head and, what he referred to as, “other upper body problems.”


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