Sens zap Bolts' reign

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:46 AM ET

Senators 3, Lightning 2

Ottawa wins series 4-1

As it turns out, Lightning does only strike once.

At least in the Senators' playoff world.

Their road to the Stanley Cup has just begun, but the Senators assured there will be a new champion by edging the Tampa Bay Lightning before 20,004 raucous onlookers last night at Scotiabank Place.

While the Bolts didn't go down without a fight, in the end Tampa was no match for Ottawa, which captured the first-round series by a 4-1 margin.

"It's nice to get the win and the series, but this is only one round. We've still got a long way to go," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "I thought we got stronger as the series went on and we won because we were the better team."

The names of the heroes were familiar on this night. Peter Schaefer and Andrej Meszaros scored the first two goals for the Senators, while Martin Havlat and Dany Heatley had two-point efforts.

But none outshone the performance of defenceman Wade Redden, who had two assists. He returned to Ottawa late yesterday after attending his mother Pat's funeral in Lloydminster, Sask.

With his father Gord and brother Bart tearfully looking on from the stands, an emotional Redden talked about how difficult the last week has been after Pat lost her battle with cancer last Saturday.

"I've been playing with a heavy heart," said Redden. "This is obviously a very important part of my life, but I've lost someone who meant a lot to me. But I know my mom is watching somewhere and she'd be happy with what we accomplished."

The Senators couldn't have done this without Redden's contribution, but he had plenty of help. After a Game 2 loss that briefly tied the series, coach Bryan Murray called on the team's best players to show it with their play.

"I haven't seen all the other series because I've been so involved in this one, but give Ottawa credit because we got beaten by a great team," said Lightning coach John Tortorella.

"Like I say, I haven't seen everybody, but I've never coached against a team that takes advantage of its opportunities like these guys do. I do believe they have all the ingredients to win a championship. The only question mark, and it's not just you guys had, too, is the goaltending.

"That kid played well."

Tortorella was, of course, speaking of Ray Emery, who became the first rookie goalie since Brian Boucher with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000 to win a playoff series.

Emery took it all in stride. He had to make some big stops -- most notably a backhand off the stick of Vinny Lecavalier in the third period -- but Emery stood up to the challenge of replacing the injured Dominik Hasek.

"It's just great to be part of a great team," said Emery. "You want to have this kind of opportunity."

Sean Burke got his first chance to start in the series, and the Lightning veteran did his best to extend matters. He's the reason the margin of victory was so slim last night.

"They went down like a champion," said Senators GM John Muckler.

But the Senators wouldn't be denied. They wanted to get this series over with early and didn't want to go back to Florida. Most of all, they wanted to get a rest.

"If you're going to win the Stanley Cup, it's important to get some series over with early," said Murray. "I've always said that the first round can be one of the toughest because it's so unpredictable and so many things can happen. I just thought we played well and we needed people to step to get the job done, they got the job done."

Mission accomplished ... for now.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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