Senators 3, Lightning 2
In Sean Burke's first season (1984-85) with the OHL's Toronto Marlies, the captain was a nice Italian guy who went on to score 18 goals and 45 assists for 63 points in 66 games.
His name was George Spezza.
Though a teenager, he already had a two-year-old nephew.
Last Thursday, in Game 4 of the Senators-Lightning first-round playoff series, the nephew scored a late goal on Burke that would have counted had Ottawa not been up by three with time winding down and the officials been honest with themselves.
On the play, he collided with Burke, who in turn gouged at his eyes.
"We were just yipping at each other," Jason Spezza said when asked for a full account of the incident yesterday morning.
Last night, Spezza had an assist on the Senators' game-winning, and thus, series-winning goal. In the second period, he moved the puck along the boards to Dany Heatley, who in turn found a wide-open (you'd think by now, eh?) Martin Havlat in front for his sixth of the series and Ottawa's third in what would become a 3-2 victory.
The 39-year-old Burke played quite well in Game 5. He made more than "the occasional save," stopping 35 shots (including six more from Havlat) and leaving all to wonder if the Bolts might still be alive if it wasn't just his first start.
As it is, the series belonged to the Senators, who were led by 10 points from both Spezza and Havlat.
In all the yipping, the Senators had the last word.
And now they wait.
Bumped By Dora:
If the Senators are especially rusty at the start of the next round, they may only have themselves to blame. Apparently, somebody either didn't think the team would earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs -- or that the NHL work stoppage might still be in effect, depending on when bookings at The Bank were done. Assuming the first round isn't over until Thursday, the Senators now can't begin their next series any sooner than next Monday because the joint is booked for "five exciting shows" of Dora The Explorer Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the Senators weren't able to have their usual home date last Saturday, either, as Stars on Ice had already reserved the facility. Now they know how Brian Kilrea feels in a city that annually books the Home Show in his rink and is continually surprised by his 67's making the playoffs ... Tickets for Round 2 go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Starts and Stops:
Call it the Rise of Ray. Rookie Ray Emery went from being an untried playoff performer to a "weak spot" to the only player from either team who required the post-game press conference room for his scrum last night ... One of Tampa's more effective players was hulking W Evgeny Artyukhin, who scored his team's first goal last night. In a pre-season publication, Artyukhin was described as a "Russian train wreck" who is "unpredictable with and without the puck." In the second period, Vaclav Varada found out what he could do without the puck when Artyukhin hammered him along the boards. Varada didn't return.
John Grahame's mask features a painting of two scantily clad women, who, judging by the poles behind them, appear to be strippers. On his, Philadelphia's Antero Niittymaki has a painting of Al Capone with bullets spraying from his machine gun. And Emery was forbidden from wearing a painting of Mike Tyson? "Welcome to Pleasantville," chuckled one Senators player ... New nickname for Chris Neil after this series should be The Wooden Spoon (which can be shortened to "Spoon" or "Spooner") because of his ability to successfully stir the pot. The Spoon wishes he could have brought back one souvenir in particular from his recent trip to Tampa. A sign, held by a fan in the stands at the St. Pete Times Forum, featured the body of a turtle and a picture of Neil's face. "It was awesome," said Neil. Said Spezza: "When you get fans to go to all that trouble, you know you're doing your job." ... New nickname for Patrick Eaves? Cowboy works. The exceptional rookie skates -- and walks -- like he left his horse tied up outside of Marshy's Saloon ... Bryan Smolinski (remember him?) was a sizzling 12-2 in the faceoff circles ... Brad Richards played 27 minutes, second only to Wade Redden's 28:08 but way too much for a forward. Then, Tampa didn't have many others worth using a lot.
Things That Make You Go Hmmm:
Peter Schaefer, who got Mike Fisher in the eye with a puck in Game 3, last night fired one off Dan Boyle's face. "Dan had a good series for them," said Schaefer. "I was fortunate to hit him rather than one of our guys again."
Chris Kelly, who suffered upper- and lower-body injuries this series, threw himself and successfully blocked Tampa's last chance for an equalizer -- a Vinny Lecavalier point shot -- with Burke pulled for an extra attacker ... The most quoted non-factor in a playoff series ever? Tim Taylor. The only thing we noticed him do was steal a puck, and we didn't even notice that.