Sens days behind Lalime

MIKE ZEISBERGER

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Patrick Lalime knew the question would come.

What is it like to come back to the Air Canada Centre, a place that held so many post-season disappointments while he was a member of the Ottawa Senators?

To his credit, the veteran goaltender was not upset at the query. It is, after all, ancient history for him.

"I moved on," said Lalime, who started between the pipes for the Chicago Blackhawks last night. "I had one bad game here but that seems to be what everyone remembers."

Lalime was referring to Game 7 of the best-of-seven eastern conference quarter-final between the Sens and Leafs back in 2004. Joe Nieuwendyk beat Lalime twice through the five hole in the first period of that contest, propelling the Leafs to a 4-1 victory that eliminated their provincial rivals from the playoffs.

Lalime was practically run out of Ottawa after that series. Subsequent stints in both St. Louis and Chicago have been marred by serious injuries includling surgeries on his knee and back.

"This is as healthy as I've felt in a long time," Lalime said. "It's a fun team to be around, too, so I'm really looking forward to the season."

BACKUP BUDS

Last night marked the fifth consecutive game in which the Leafs faced an opponent's backup goalie.

That total likely will be boosted to six when the Atlanta Thrashers come to town on Tuesday. With starter Kari Lehtonen sidelined with a groin injury, Johan Hedberg likely will get the call against the Leafs.

KANE IS ABLE

About 20 friends and family of Chicago rookie Patrick Kane made the journey from his home town of Buffalo to watch the game last night.

Kane, 18, grew up idolizing then-Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek. So imagine how thrilled he was when he scored the shootout winner against the Dominator during the Hawks' home opener against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 6.

After the game, Kane went over to have his photo taken with Hasek, who was not sure who the kid was at first.

"After a while, he looked over and said: 'Aren't you the kid who just scored on me?'" Kane recalled with a laugh.


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