Zdeno gives Sens huge lift

, Last Updated: 4:57 PM ET


 They can put it all behind them now, the embarrassment of Game 5, the slow start last night in Game 6, the questions about their character, will to win, their desire.

 The Senators can forge a new perception of themselves tomorrow night in Toronto with a win in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final against the Maple Leafs.

 A furious third-period rally and Mike Fisher's double-overtime winner last night now allow the Senators a chance for redemption.

 Fisher finished it, but Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara started it with a breathtaking shift in the opening minutes of the third period, pulling what was shaping up as another wreck of a game out of the muck stirred up by a dogged Leafs team.

 "That's the whole key now, guys stepping up at the right time," said Fisher. "A guy like Chara gets angry and it's contagious. We turned around after that. It was a huge play."

 You can see why Chara will get strong consideration for the Norris Trophy when you look at that shift he played early in the third with the Senators trailing the Leafs 1-0 and looking close to being dead in the water.

 It started with Chara stepping up inside the Leafs' blue line and levelling Toronto veteran Joe Nieuwendyk with a crushing open-ice hit.

 Seconds later, the puck wound up in the Senators' zone along the left wing boards and as soon as winger Bryan Smolinski had possession, Chara, recognizing the chance for a counterattack, leapt to the offence.

 So nimble for a big man, he quickly had a head of steam and when Senators winger Peter Schaefer chipped the puck past Leafs defenceman Brian Leetch at the Toronto line, Chara burst by him.

 "At that point I had some speed and I was basically going for it," said Chara. "We were trying to establish the forecheck and when Schaefer chipped it into the corner, I decided to go."

 Chara got the puck and then beat Nieuwendyk in a race behind the net, bringing it out on his backhand to the right of Toronto goaltender Ed Belfour. He then did something 6-foot-9 defencemen shouldn't be able to do.

 He spun to his left, shifting to his forehand and whipping a shot that found a hole between Belfour and the post.

 "Looking at the replay, there wasn't much space there, maybe two or three inches from the post," said Chara. "I just hit the spot."

 The goal, at 4:55 of the third, pumped life into the Corel Centre. It was a special shift, starting with that big hit on Nieuwendyk.

 "I saw our forwards were in good position to cover for me, so I went for it," said Chara. "Everybody started going after that. It wasn't just me. Everybody contributed."

 SPECIAL SHIFT

 It was a special shift, a game altering shift, that started with the thunder of brute force and ended with a lightning bolt of finesse.

 It was an incredible move from such a big man.

 "That's a move (Peter) Forsberg makes," said Senators centre Todd White. "He made a heck of a play to spin and shoot like that. It was a big play from a big man."

 Said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson: "Overall, I just find it amazing, his ability to control his body. You put skates on his feet and a stick in his hand ... he's put the time in (working on his game), his conditioning, he's paid his dues, for sure."

 Chara said it never crossed his mind to try what would have been the simple play in that circumstance, a wraparound.

 "No," he said. "You basically know where the net is and I was just trying to hit the net. I don't do many fancy plays. I try to keep it simple and play physical. I'm not stickhandling between my legs. It just happened."

 It was pointed out to Chara 6-foot-9 guys shouldn't be able to do that.

 "That's true," he said. "But I guess it's possible."

 After last night, the Senators have to feel anything is now possible.


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