Lalime answers critics

CHRIS STEVENSON, Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:38 AM ET


TORONTO --  Patrick Lalime knows the question marks hang over him and his sore knee.

But the Senators goalie pushed both away, at least for another couple of days, as he got stronger as the night went on last night.

Backed by a superlative effort from his teammates, Lalime gave up two first-period goals and then shut down the Maple Leafs as the Senators scored a convincing 4-2 win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final.

"It was almost a perfect game," said Lalime, who faced 17 shots, eight of them in the third period.

"I think if we play like that, we are going to win a lot of games. We shut them down and didn't give them many chances. Now that we've got one, we want to take the other one."

Game 2 is tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre.

Lalime was beaten on a 2-on-1 by veteran Joe Nieuwendyk to open the scoring just over three minutes into the game. After Bryan Smolinski tied it, Lalime was beaten on a good shot by Bryan McCabe on the power play.

That's all the Leafs would get as Lalime made some strong stops down the stretch.

"I think probably every year I've been in Ottawa there has been a question mark (about me)," he said. "I just want to give the team a chance to win."

Lalime said his left knee, which he hurt here with a week to go in the regular season, wasn't causing him any pain in practice, so he made the decision to play.

"It felt pretty good tonight. Now we're in a situation where we can sit back and enjoy this one. We know it's going to get tougher."


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