Alfie strikes Lightning

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson celebrates his third period goal with five seconds left...

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson celebrates his third period goal with five seconds left against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, March 14, 2006 in Ottawa. (Ottawa Sun/Tony Caldwell)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

Don't call Daniel Alfredsson superstitious. The Senators captain isn't, really.

He'll stick with black tape on his stick, even after switching to white last night in time to score the winner (his team-leading seventh winner this season) with seven seconds left in the third period.

It gave the Senators a dazzling 4-3, come-from-behind win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Place, giving the Bolts' playoff hopes a kick.

"I used black tape the whole game, but switched to an old stick that had white near the end," said Alfredsson, who tipped home Jason Spezza's pass into the open side on Tampa goaltender John Grahame.

Alfredsson, who had switched to black tape for last night's game, will surely stick with white now, right?

"Nope," said Alfredsson. "I'll use black because I can't be superstitious."

The goal, Alfredsson's 37th of the season, allowed him to end what had been a frustrating night on a jubilant note.

The victory allowed the Senators to maintain their two-point edge over the Buffalo Sabres -- also winners last night -- in the battle for top spot in the Northeast Division. They're also one back of Carolina for top spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa holds a game in hand on the Hurricanes.

The game will give the second-guessers ammunition in Tampa as Lightning coach John Tortorella opted to start Grahame after Sean Burke was brilliant in a 2-1 win in Montreal on Monday night.

The Senators came back from a 3-1 deficit, getting a lucky goal by defenceman Andrej Meszaros with 15 seconds left in the second and a power-play goal by Dany Heatley four minutes into the third to tie it.

In between, there was a big penalty kill of a double-minor assessed to Alfredsson late in the second and that carried over into the third.

Alfredsson was called for holding Tampa's Martin St-Louis, who appeared to drop easily, and then was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by referee Chris Lee when Alfredsson dropped his stick and glove on the way to the box.

"Once we killed off my penalties, that gave us a lot of momentum," said Alfredsson. "It's something I shouldn't have done, but I had such good position on St. Louis, there's no way I touched him. Maybe it's not the referee's fault, (St. Louis) dives and fools the referee. We were getting a lot of penalties and I just lost it."

The referees made it up to Alfredsson early in the third. With Tampa's Vinnie Prospal already in the box, Freddie Modin was whistled off for holding Alfredsson at 4:03.

Sixteen seconds later, Heatley snapped home his 38th of the year on a hard pass by Spezza on the 5-on-3 to tie the game. Spezza had three assists on the night; Heatley a goal and two helpers.

Alfredsson won it on some great passing as Senators coach Bryan Murray reunited Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson.

"Alfie can do what he wants. He can switch sticks, switch tape ... we'll find a way to find his stick," said Spezza. "Whether it's right or wrong, people faulted us early in the season because we were scoring a lot of goals and blowing teams out, they said we couldn't win the close games.

"We showed (last) night we can battle and come from behind. It's not our fault we blew teams out. The games are tougher now and we're playing better."

The Senators will be in Boston to face the Bruins tomorrow night.


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