Thursday, April 10, 2003

NHL Playoffs

: Ottawa loses opener at home

By Ira Podell
The Associated Press

Home is where the losses were on the first night of the NHL playoffs. The biggest surprises were in Ottawa and Dallas, where the top-seeded Senators and Stars were beaten Wednesday night.

Ottawa, the Presidents' Trophy winner with 113 points, lost 3-0 to the New York Islanders - the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. New York had 30 fewer points than the Senators in the regular season, but was able to back up coach Peter Laviolette's claim that he had the better team in this series.

"We played like a team, and it's good to feel like you're not alone on the ice," said Alexei Yashin, a former Senators player who scored for New York.

Edmonton, taking on the Stars in the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, have a rare lead. The Oilers got it with a 2-1 win.

Toronto took a 1-0 lead in its best-of-seven series by beating the Flyers 5-3 in Philadelphia. In another Eastern Conference series, New Jersey became the only home team to win on opening night with a 2-1 victory over Boston.

All but one series in the East began Wednesday. Washington will play at Tampa Bay on Thursday night to start that series between Southeast Division rivals.

In the West on Thursday, defending champion Detroit will host Anaheim; St. Louis is in Vancouver; and Colorado will be at home to take on Minnesota in the Wild's playoff debut.

New York's Dave Scatchard and Shawn Bates added goals, and Garth Snow stopped 25 shots for his first playoff shutout.

"Our team on many occasions in big games has played big games," Laviolette said.

Scatchard and Yashin scored in the first period, and Bates made it 3-0 midway through the second.

"We believe that you work for your breaks, and we were working hard and rewarded for it," Islanders captain Mike Peca said.

Ottawa has a history of disappointing its fans. Despite seven straight postseason appearances and three 100-point seasons in five, the Senators have just two series wins and none when they have home-ice advantage.

"We were too overanxious," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We were running around, trying to finish every check - we wanted to do too much."

Ryan Smyth scored a short-handed goal between the legs of Marty Turco, then Shawn Horcoff beat his glove, to send the Oilers on the way to victory.

Edmonton has a playoff lead over the Stars for the first time since 1997, when the Oilers won in seven games. Dallas won postseason meetings in 1998, '99, '00 and '01 and never trailed in any of those meetings.

"It's only the first game," Horcoff said, "but it's definitely gratifying."

Turco had a record-setting regular season with a 1.72 goals-against average, and he led the NHL with a 93.2 save percentage. But his playoff debut was a disappointing loss. He allowed two goals in a 3:48 span early in the second period.

"I felt pretty good in terms of nerves," said Turco, who made 21 saves. "We certainly learned a lesson. We're in for a battle."

Tommy Salo stopped 20 shots to earn just his fourth win in 16 playoff games.

Maple Leafs 5, Flyers 3

At Philadelphia, Mikael Renberg scored a power-play goal with 5:39 left, leading Toronto over the Flyers.

The Flyers outshot the Leafs 31-15, but Toronto scored four goals on its first 13 attempts against Roman Cechmanek. Alexander Mogilny had three goals, for his first playoff hat trick, and Tie Domi also scored for the Leafs.

Ed Belfour made 28 saves for Toronto, which has won four straight first-round series.

Eric Desjardins, Donald Brashear and Eric Weinrich scored for Philadelphia, which has been eliminated in the opening round four of the last five years.

At East Rutherford, N.J., Jamie Langenbrunner scored twice and Martin Brodeur made 26 saves for New Jersey.

Bryan Berard scored for the Bruins in the opener that featured plenty of hard hits.

Langenbrunner staked the Devils to a 2-0 lead with goals in each of the first two periods against Steve Shields. Brodeur made three good saves down the stretch after Berard's third-period goal.

Shields, not announced as the starter until Wednesday, stopped 26 shots.

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