Senators fry Lightning

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

TAMPA -- The Senators have a choke hold on the Lightning that former wrestler Hulk Hogan would be proud of.

After an iffy start last night, the Senators sprung to life and methodically destroyed the defending Stanley Cup champions en route to a 5-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum and a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven matchup.

Tomorrow night, they can choke the life out of Hogan's beloved Bolts in Game 5 at Scotiabank Place.

HEATLEY LEADS WAY

Dany Heatley led the attack with a goal and two assists, while Jason Spezza, Martin Havlat, Chris Phillips and Chris Neil also scored for the Senators, who chased Tampa goalie John Grahame for the second straight game.

"We've got them in a position where we know our best chance to put them away is at home," said Senators goalie Ray Emery, who made 30 saves. "We played a strong game. We didn't have our best start, but we played solid -- especially in the third."

The only bad note was the Senators lost Phillips, who tied the game 2-2 at 5:59 of the second with his first goal of the playoffs, to an apparent knee injury. But after the game Phillips said he's fine.

"It's better already. I should be okay for Game 5," said Phillips.

After leaving the ice down 2-1 after the first period, the Senators scored three unanswered goals in the second, prompting Tampa coach John Tortorella to hook Grahame -- who gave up four goals on 17 shots -- in favour of Sean Burke for the third.

"We didn't play the way we wanted to play in the first and we made adjustments," said Spezza, who set a franchise record for points in a playoff series with nine -- bettering Marian Hossa's mark of eight set in 2003 against Philadelphia.

It was the young guns who continued to lead the charge for the Senators. Havlat scored his fifth goal of the playoffs and tied a franchise record set in 1997 by Daniel Alfredsson for most goals in a series.

After taking a pass from Peter Schaefer, who was battling behind the net, Havlat gave the Senators a two-goal lead at 17:50 of the second. The goal came only 40 seconds after Heatley scored what turned out to be the winner.

From there, the Bolts were fried.

TORTS LAMENTS GOALTENDING

Neil, who has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Tampa, stuck a knife in the Bolts by scoring at 1:24 of the third on Burke.

"I'd just like to get a save. It's tough. I didn't think Grahame played well," said Tortorella, who plans to start Burke in Game 5. "You give up four goals on 17 shots. We need the occasional save."

The Senators struck first when Spezza took a pass from Heatley and deked Tampa's Dimitry Afanasenkov to get a clear shot at Grahame from the slot at 6:13 of the first.

That didn't last because the Bolts refused to roll over.

First, Martin St. Louis tied the game as he went to the net on a broken play that saw Emery get bowled over by centre Bryan Smolinski at 11:10 of the first.

Then, it looked like the Senators were in big trouble when Brad Richards fired a shot through a crowd that Emery never saw to open up a 2-1 lead at 16:15.

"I can't say what I said, but I wasn't very happy," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "If we're going to have success, we have to play the way we did in the second period and not the way we were playing in the first period."


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