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Ottawa survives giving up first goal -- again

12/20/2003

OTTAWA (AP) -- The Ottawa Senators seized an opportunity for
payback after once again digging themselves a hole.

Curtis Leschyshyn, Peter Schaefer and Jason Spezza scored to
lead Ottawa to a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday
night.

Patrick Lalime made 24 saves for the Senators, who scored three
straight goals after falling behind 1-0 for the 19th time in 31
games.

"It's an area we'd certainly like to get better in, but the
fact that we responded and got some momentum afterwards and
continued to play well is a nice sign," Leschyshyn said.

Ottawa, 7-7-2-3 when it has allowed the first goal of the game,
avenged its most lopsided defeat of the season, a 6-2 loss in New
York on Nov. 23.

"We got pretty embarrassed when we played there -- we didn't
have a good game and they were all over us, so it was important to
have a good strong game tonight and get a win," defenseman Zdeno
Chara said.

Ottawa, which beat Chicago 6-1 on Thursday, improved to 3-1 on
its season-high, five-game homestand.

"We owed them one," Lalime said of the Rangers. "We had that
in the back of our mind and everybody showed up for it."

Darius Kasparaitis scored for New York, which has lost six of
nine.

"Lalime made some great saves and we just didn't score,"
Rangers center Bobby Holik said. "There are things we could have
done better, but that's hockey."

Kasparaitis ended a 52-game goal drought 8:01 in. Mark Messier
won a draw in the Ottawa zone back to Kasparaitis, whose slap shot
from the point beat Lalime through the legs for his first goal
since Feb. 15.

Leschyshyn tied it with his first of the season at 14:41 as he
converted a setup by Martin Havlat.

"Marty made a great pass and I just shot it at the net,"
Leschyshyn said. "I was hoping for the best and fortunately it did
go in."

Ottawa took a 2-1 lead 1:26 into the second when Schaefer
redirected defenseman Karel Rachunek's shot past goalie Mike Dunham
for his eighth goal.

Spezza increased the Senators' lead to two at 9:22 as he lobbied
for a goal that referee Stephen Walkom had already awarded.

"The ref didn't blow the whistle right away or signal for a
goal so I thought I'd help him out a little bit and make sure he
called it a goal," Spezza said.

Spezza immediately pointed toward the goal line as he began his
goal celebration. He scored by reaching around Dunham in the crease
and sweeping the puck just over the goal line before Rangers
defenseman Tom Poti cleared the puck away.

"I didn't really get there quick enough, I guess," Poti said.
"It must have crossed the line, but it looked pretty close from
where I was."

Chara abruptly threw New York's Matthew Barnaby to the ice
before he could be goaded into a fight 58 seconds in.

"Barnaby just tried to turn the game around out there, that
early," Rangers coach Glen Sather said. "You've got to give him
credit for that."

After they served penalties for unsporstmanlike conduct, Barnaby
immediately threw his gloves to the ice upon his return to the ice
and fought a losing battle as the Senators' defenseman used a
decided reach advantage to jab him at will with his left hand while
holding Barnaby's sweater.

"It's my job," Barnaby said. "He's a tough guy and he got the
better of me tonight. That's it."

Game notes
Dunham has won just two of his last 11 decisions (2-7-2).
... Rangers D Boris Mironov returned after serving a two-game
suspension. ... The Senators haven't allowed a power-play goal in
six games. Ottawa's penalty killers successfully shut down the
Rangers' two power-play opportunities. ... Leschyshyn went 18 games
since scoring his last goal against Boston on March 11. ... The
Senators are 8-3-1 when they've scored first.