Bolt out of the blue

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

TAMPA -- John Tortorella supplied the parting shot at the end of a nasty night.

His target: Senators goalie Ray Emery.

"The one good thing about it ... I thought Emery played very good in the second, but in the third we got to him," the Tampa coach said after an 8-4 loss to the Senators in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series. "I think that's important. I think that's their weak spot. It's all about momentum. I think we'll have to draw from things we did in the third to bring us into the next game."

Emery was, in fact, outstanding as he stopped 29-of-30 shots through two periods. Both teams scored three goals in the final frame, which saw Ottawa outshoot the hosts 10-9.

But if Emery cracked last night, what does that say about John Grahame (five goals allowed, 20 shots) and his replacement, Sean Burke (three goals allowed, 11 shots)?

And which one of them does Tortorella turn to now?

They Said It:

Chris Neil has become public enemy No. 1 in Tampa. "If you're going to yap all night, you have to expect to be involved in that stuff," Burke said of Neil's refusal to fight Chris Dingman in the third. "Who knows what goes through a guy's mind. Maybe he's afraid of Chris, I don't know." ... Replied Neil: "I've fought him five times. It's not a matter of being afraid. He took seven minutes in penalties there and we scored two goals. If anything, he cost them the game." ... Tortorella had this to say about the incident, which occured with Ottawa up 5-2 and still more than 16 minutes to play. "Yes, I'm very disappointed in that situation. Chris Neil is a smart enough player ... he's trying to do his job. Chris Dingman needs to do his better. It's not about turning it into a gong show. It's about playing, about doing it the right way. That's not the right way, as far as this coach is concerned." ... Zdeno Chara, on protecting his previously battered right hand by pounding Vinny Lecavalier with his left. "I have no problem fighting with lefty." Lefty, meet Vinny.

Nuts And Bolts:

This series has fast become a Battle of the Martins. Two nights after Martin St. Louis scored a pair of goals to even the best-of-seven 1-1, Martin Havlat slipped into the St. Pete Times Forum and stole the driver's wheel back for Ottawa. Havlat, who scored the key goal for the Senators in Game 1, picked up two more last night. Both were beauties. After missing 59 games with a shoulder injury, Havlat is now staking early claims to the Conn Smythe Trophy. He has four goals and still a full tank of fuel when others around him are down a quarter after the full grind of the regular season. Wonder what Jacques Martin's reaction would be if Havlat wound up as the playoff MVP? Because of his tendency to think offence before defence, Martin was never Martin's favourite Martin.

Starts and Stops:

In three games, the Senators have already scored more goals (15) than they did in their last series, a seven gamer against the Leafs (11) ...All rookie Patrick Eaves did to help the Senators establish a 3-0 lead was throw up a blanket of a screen in Grahame's face on Wade Redden's goal and start the hard forecheck that led to the next one, scored by Eaves himself. Other than that, nothing .... What makes great players great? When they bounce back from a mediocre game to play a strong one. Daniel Alfredsson had two assists and was one of the most physical guys on either team last night ... There's no shortage of deep thinking in the Tampa dressing room. Slogans on the walls include: "Safe is Death" and "Details of Discipline, Discipline of Details" and "Good is the enemy of Great" and "Don't think ... Do." Almost enough to make a guy's head hurt, it is.

Between Periods:

Yesterday morning, Bryan Murray showed the Senators "17 (video) clips", mostly of what was becoming a common flaw in their game. "The majority of them are of us giving up space and them taking advantage of it." Subsequently, that didn't seem like much of a problem last night ... Some of us in the media are surprised/disappointed Murray hasn't countered Tortorella's press conferences with a few well-placed zingers of his own. At the very least, we expected him to send a message to the Tampa coach similar to the one Ken Hitchcock passed along to Lindy Ruff Monday. But no. "John is trying to do the psychological thing and I'm trying to do the coaching," Murray said yesterday. Hey wait. That's not bad ... Emery was stylin' again on the way to the rink. While every other Senator dressed in a dark suit (okay, Antoine Vermette's was more of a powder blue), the Rayzer wore white jacket and pants, with a reddish shirt. Looked a little like Tubbs from Miami Vice, actually .... Great job by the Lightning staff on the pre-game show, especially with the highlight package that was projected on to the entire ice surface with the lights lowered.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm:

The game Redden played last night -- combined with the circumstances of the past week -- is the story of the NHL playoffs ... Neil was at his feisty best all night. After participating in his second (semi) line brawl near the end of the middle period, he was headed toward the corridor to the dressing room when he appeared to playfully challenge either a man or a lady, who were wearing Lightning jerseys and sitting along the glass near the Ottawa bench. This caused the lady to stand and point back, shouting at Neil as he disappeared down the hall. Sitting nearby, Peter Schaefer obviously found the incident very funny ... Pat Burns was in the stands, wearing a Devils hat.

Butt Ends:

Alfredsson did pick up his third assist of the game, despite what the stats sheet might say. He put the puck right on Paul (The Lone) Ranger's stick in the first minute of the final period, to which the Bolts defenceman responded by blasting a slapper by Emery ... There's a good reason goalies get in that statuesque pose for faceoffs in their end. One of Emery's best saves was the snag he made when Lecavalier took a shot that was labelled for the top corner directly off a draw against Mike Fisher in the first ... Anton Volchenkov picked up the puck at the end of the game.


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