Final OT

New Jersey won 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

New Jersey won 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, May 10th
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OT
Senators3
Game 2: Tuesday, May 13th
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Senators1
Game 3: Thursday, May 15th
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Devils1
Game 4: Saturday, May 17th
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Devils5
Game 5: Monday, May 19th
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Senators3
Game 6: Wednesday, May 21st
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OT
Devils1
Game 7: Friday, May 23rd
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7:00 PM ET, May 10, 2003

Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

1 2 3 OT T
NJ 0 2 0 2
OTT 2 0 0 2

Top Skaters

New Jersey: S. Niedermayer - 1 A, 2 SOG, +2

Ottawa: C. Phillips - 1 A, 4 SOG, +2

Lalime allows two goals or less in 11th straight game

OTTAWA (AP) -- The Ottawa Senators weren't kidding when they boasted about their depth on offense.

 Shaun Van Allen
Van Allen

Checking-line forward Shaun Van Allen tipped Martin Havlat's pass into a wide-open net 3:08 into overtime Saturday night, leading the Senators to a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals.

Van Allen's first career goal in 55 playoff games came after the Senators squandered an early 2-0 lead.

Chris Neil and Todd White also scored for the Senators, whose more potent scorers -- including Marian Hossa and captain Daniel Alfredsson -- were held without a point. Patrick Lalime finished with 32 saves, and set a playoff record with his 11th straight game of allowing two goals or fewer.

Joe Nieuwendyk and Jay Pandolfo scored for the Devils, and Martin Brodeur made 27 saves.

"I'm still tingling," Van Allen said. "It's been a long time in the making, and it was a big goal, but my linemates deserve a lot of credit."

Peter Schaefer sparked the game-winning goal, forcing a turnover and feeding Van Allen to set up a 2-on-1 break. Van Allen fed a pass across, drawing Brodeur to the top of the crease, and Havlat sent the puck back to Van Allen.

"You've got the whole net there, and you just have to redirect it," Van Allen said. "Anyone's going to score that goal."

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is at Ottawa on Tuesday.

While the Devils showed determination in rallying from a two-goal deficit, they couldn't overtake the Presidents' Trophy winners.

And in making their deepest playoff run, the Senators continue erasing memories of past early-round exits, including last year when they squandered a 3-2 second-round series lead against Toronto.

"We've been learning through the years," Lalime said. "Adversity, the last few years, we've had some good playoffs, but not as good as this. And now we start to believe we can do it, and that's probably the difference this year."

The Senators haven't lost a playoff game this year in which they've scored. Ottawa was shut out once by the New York Islanders and twice by Philadelphia in the first two rounds.

The Devils, making their third Eastern Conference finals appearance in four years, aren't worried yet.

"I don't think anybody's going to panic in this locker room," Nieuwendyk said. "It sure would've been nice to get this one after coming back. But they're a good hockey club over there."

The Senators improved to 9-3 in the playoffs, while New Jersey lost its first Game 1 this year and fell to 8-3. The Devils eliminated Boston and Tampa Bay in five games in the first two rounds.

The Senators appeared to be in control when they scored twice on their first four shots 7:23 in.

Magnus Arvedson's blind backhander toward the net, deflected in off Neil's skate. White scored 73 seconds later by flipping in a rebound after Brodeur kicked away Chris Phillips' point shot.

The Devils, playing their first game since May 2, responded with a pair of goals 2:32 apart in the second period, capped by Pandolfo's one-timer from the top of the left circle.

In a series involving this postseason's two best goalies, Lalime had the early edge -- stopping the first 19 shots he faced. He got his blocker out to deflect Brian Gionta's shot from in close in the early going.

Brodeur was strong in keeping the Devils in it. Along with stopping Bryan Smolinski on a 2-on-1 break late in the first period, Brodeur foiled Alfredsson on a breakaway, getting his stick out to prevent him from cutting across the slot.

His best save came 4:30 into the third against Havlat, who was in alone. Faking forehand, Havlat went backhand only to have his shot stopped when Brodeur held his ground and kicked out his left leg.

New Jersey's Scott Niedermayer left the game shortly before the winning goal. The defenseman appeared woozy, and required help getting off the ice after he was struck in the back of the helmet by a point shot from Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov.

Niedermayer said he sustained a bruise, but doesn't expect to be held out of action.

Game notes
With a two-day break between games, the Devils were scheduled to return to New Jersey after the game, and return Monday. ... This series is the first to pit the top two seeds in the East against each other in the conference finals since the playoff format was changed in 1994. ... Senators assistant coach Roger Neilson, battling cancerous brain tumors, received the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest honors. Neilson, 68, has coached with 10 professional teams. He received the honor Friday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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