Marty starts the party

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:15 PM ET

As the fans went into hysterics, Martin Havlat lifted his arms in the air and had a look of relief on his face last night.

Hey, it had been a while for the Senators winger and the good people of Ottawa.

"I was starting to wonder if Marty knew where the net was," said Senators coach Bryan Murray.

Havlat, who missed 58 games with a dislocated shoulder before returning to the lineup earlier this week, found the net in the nick of time last night as the Senators scored four unanswered goals in the third period to send the Lightning to the mat with a 4-1 victory at Scotiabank Place in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final.

As Ottawa fans were getting nervous, Havlat (on a nice deke), Jason Spezza (with a wire of a shot on the short side), Mike Fisher (thanks to a great effort by Peter Schaefer) and Daniel Alfredsson (into an empty net) scored and rookie goalie Ray Emery made 38 saves (many of them excellent) to give the Senators the series lead.

"It's just great to get the win," said Havlat, who admitted he headed to the corner to celebrate his goal because he had close friends sitting there. "Sure, it was nice to score the goal. I hadn't scored since Nov. 29 and you start to wonder.

"The big thing is it gives us the lead in the series. We were getting a little nervous there because we were getting chances, but (John Grahame) was making big stops. We just had to keep going at them."

In a span of 67 seconds in the third period, Havlat and Spezza scored power-play goals to give the Senators the lead and carry them to victory.

First, it was Havlat, who -- after several missed chances -- finally beat Grahame at 5:06 of the period to tie the game 1-1.

Then, for good measure, Spezza got into the act, beating Grahame over the shoulder on the glove side at 6:13.

"We were just waiting to get that first one," said Spezza. "We know with this team we have here that it's going to take a lot more than one goal to beat us. We were confident before the third.

"I don't know if it lifted the weight of the world off our shoulders, but we definitely wanted to get even. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves and then we got it going in our direction."

EMERY SOLID

For two periods, it was Emery who gave the Senators a chance to win. He had help from a couple of crossbars, but was only beaten by Vinny Lecavalier when the Bolts had a two-man advantage in the first.

With veteran goalie Dominik Hasek sidelined with an adductor muscle injury, Emery didn't look nervous at all. He wasn't fighting the puck and made the big stops the club needs.

"Definitely, it just felt good to get the win," said Emery.

It all turned around with two straight power plays in the third. The second to set up Spezza's goal came on a hooking call to Tampa defenceman Dan Boyle

"It was a terrible call. At that point of the game, I just lifted the guy's stick (Patrick Eaves) and he fell. It was a terrible call," said Boyle.

But the Senators will take it.

"This is a good win for us," said Alfredsson.

Havlat wasn't alone in breathing a sigh of relief.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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