Hossa keeps raising bar

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 3:26 PM ET


 Eighteen shots later, No. 18 finally managed to again solve the puzzle that was Ed Belfour.

 And in the process, he managed to pick up his second game-winning goal -- in the Senators' second win of the playoffs.

 After scoring twice in the opener of this Ottawa-Toronto playoff series, Marian Hossa was unable to put the round disc into the square cage behind the Maple Leafs goalie since.

 It was not for lack of trying. He had three shots on goal while spending most of Game 2 recovering from a Tie Domi hit. Back to his old self and then some, he had an amazing 10 in Game 3. Then, in the first period alone last night, he had four more.

 Yet none went where intent had them sent.

 "I knew if I just kept shooting, one of them would go in," Hossa said after last night's 4-1, series evening victory in the Battle of Ontario. "To finally get one, I was definitely happy."

 That was evident when the red light went on. Hossa stood exactly in the spot where he had pulled the trigger, raised his arms and threw his head back.

 It was similar to his pose after the spectacular breakaway goal in Game 1, a snap shot could prove to be the keepsake of the post-season for Senators fans.

 Hossa's third goal of the playoffs came with the score tied 1-1, and it was typical of his brilliance. The play started in the Ottawa zone, as Hossa banked the puck off the boards and sped by Bryan Marchment at the blue line. As he raced down the ice he heard players on the Senators bench yell at him that Radek Bonk was catching up. So he slowed and, using Bonk as a decoy on a 2-on-1, came to a stop before firing fire a wrist shot to the top corner that made the Corel Centre erupt.

 "I had lots of time," said Hossa, who finished with six shots on goal and now leads the playoffs with 24. "I tried to fake, then shoot it ... it just went in."

 Hossa, who was foiled on a clear-cut, shorthanded breakaway in the first period, has been the best non-goalie by a rink lap in this Round 1 showdown. Because Belfour has twice allowed four goals along with his pair of shutouts, he's also the series MVP after four games. What Hossa is more interested in, however, is getting to Round 2.

 "The series is tied and we're confident," said Hossa. "If we can basically just do what we did (last) night, we'll be fine."

 Eliminating the Leafs would be solving a puzzle which they've never had all the pieces.

 STARTS AND STOPS: The game did not start well for Ottawa. Patrick Lalime had to do something he couldn't on Monday -- stop Mats Sundin on a 2-on-1 -- just 15 seconds into it. Shortly thereafter, Martin Havlat missed an open net on one side and Daniel Alfredsson immediately missed it on the other ... The Ottawa power play finally struck in the third period -- after 18 consecutive blown chances -- when Chris Phillips scored with Zdeno Chara providing a big 'ol screen. It was the only time all night Chara was used up front on the power play, which finished 1-for-7. Obviously, it's a weapon that should be used more often ... That goal was also something of a special- teams payback for Phillips, who took three minors the Senators were able to kill off ... Matthew Perry was back for Game 4, and, dammit, he didn't bring Rachel with him again. The Friends star visited the Senators dressing room well after the game had ended ... Mike Fisher was the second of the game's three stars as selected by The Team 1200, and it may have been for one particularly outstanding short-handed shift in the middle period alone. First, he dove to block a centring pass after Brian Leetch had sped around Chara, then he blocked a point shot, then he drew a penalty on Roberts. All within about seven seconds ... And so grows the Bryan Smolinski lowlight reel. The latest blooper sees the veteran on the penalty kill and tripping Roberts in front of the Senators net, then quickly scampering away from him. As he does, Roberts gets back on his feet and, completely unattended, tips in Sundin's shot from the point. Not only do the Leafs go in front 1-0, but Smolinski gets a penalty for his efforts. Talk about feeling shame ... Alfredsson followed through on his promise that the Senators would score by sliding a blind backhand between the Belfour's legs. It ended Eddie the Eagle's consecutive-save streak at 88 ... Remember, Alfredsson also promised a Stanley Cup win ... Peter Bondra emerged from his personal cloud of mediocrity to have a strong first period and play his best game of the series. He took the night's first penalty by nailing Belfour into the boards with what Rob Ray might refer to as a "junior hockey" move. A little while later he pulled an all-world move on a Leafs defenceman while coming out from behind the net, only to be stoned by Belfour. Bondra was also a distraction in front of the net on Todd White's goal in the third ... Too close to call was the Chris Neil-Tie Domi scrap midway through the third. The Senators came out on top, however, as Domi was given an extra two minutes. He should have been penalized more severely for the incident that started the scrap, as Domi grabbed Curtis Leschyshyn's head from behind and slammed him face first into the glass ... Found myself feeling a little like a New York Giants trainer while watching the game last night. Must be because I was taping Jesse Palmer ... Along with their BB (Bill Barilko) 16 caps they've taken to wearing in the playoffs, the Leafs are hauling around a blue wooden plank on which they mount a puck for each win they pick up. The plan is to have 16 of them around mid-June. They're very good to this particular lucky charm. It travels first class with the players, not in, oh, I don't know, the luggage rack? ... Ron Francis was spotted picking up the bill when about half the Leafs had dinner at Fratelli's restaurant Tuesday. Wonder if Havlat served them? (no, you won't get that one unless you've heard the radio ad that Havlat the waiter says "hockey is a hobby") ... Leafs GM Johnny (Ferguson) Jr. seemed to enjoy last night's game. When he wasn't counting the number of times Senators had too many men on the ice, or the two-line passes, or slamming his hand on the counter in front of him ... According to a BOO (Battle of Ontario) observer from Toronto, "Tomas Kaberle would hide if he saw a deer in the headlights." And that's not because he's an animal lover.


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