15th August 09:20
Senators skid in, skate out a winner 5-3
Senators end five-game slide, defeat Thrashers 5-3
ATLANTA -- After reaching the Eastern Conference finals last season, the
Ottawa Senators weren't overwhelmed by a five-game winless streak that
left them in last place.
Even so, a return to the win column was appreciated Tuesday night.
Bryan Smolinski scored twice, including a clinching goal in the final
minute, to lead the Senators to a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
It was Ottawa's first win since Oct. 25 at Montreal.
"We knew it was just a matter of time," Ottawa goalie Patrick Lalime
The Senators slipped to last place in the Northeast Division as a result
of their 0-3-2 skid, but coach Jacques Martin said the slump didn't
create doubt within the club.
"I don't know about feeling any pressure. I think we've got a fairly
mature team and we recognize what we need to do to be better," Martin
Martin Havlat slapped a shot past Atlanta goalie Pasi Nurminen to give
the Senators a 4-3 lead early in the third period, and Smolinski sealed
it with an empty-net goal. The two goals doubled Smolinski's season
"It was important for him to have a good game," Martin said. "That is
what we expect out of him."
The Thrashers owned a rare 1-0 lead, but couldn't hold it. Atlanta was
also uncharacteristically outscored in the third period.
Atlanta had held an 18-7 goal advantage in the third period, but allowed
the Senators to score twice without scoring any themselves. The
Thrashers' 18 third-period goals lead the NHL.
The Thrashers have enjoyed recent success by rallying from early
deficits. Atlanta is 4-3-3-1 in games it trailed 1-0, including a
comeback from 2-0 on Saturday against the New York Islanders.
Atlanta has been trying to reverse the trend of falling behind, and the
Thrashers broke through first when Jeff Cowan passed to Ronald
Petrovicky, who scored for the third straight game at 10:34.
The Senators answered 42 seconds later on Daniel Alfredsson's eighth
goal. But Atlanta took the lead right back when Randy Robitaille put a
shot in off Lalime's skate at 12:16.
The three-goal spurt was completed in just 1:42.
Ottawa pulled even at 2-2 with 33 seconds left in the first on Peter
Schaefer's slap shot from the left circle.
The Senators needed only 27 seconds into the second to take the lead when
Smolinski scored his first of the night. Yannick Tremblay tied it at 3
for the Thrashers 1:46 later.
Based on his team's strong third-period play this season, Atlanta coach
Bob Hartley was happy with the tie after two periods.
"(Ottawa) is a very experienced hockey club, and to keep them at a tie
game going into the third period, I thought we were in good shape,"
A turnover by Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk set up the go-ahead goal by
"Basically, a turnover cost us the game," Hartley said. "When you make
that kind of mistake against a good team, they're going to make you pay
Lalime made 22 saves to win for the sixth time this season. Nurminen
stopped 24 shots.
Though the Senators needed until Tuesday to snap the skid, they gained
momentum in Saturday night's 1-0 loss to New Jersey.
"The last few games, we played well and got no win," Lalime said.
"Tonight we came out of the gate strong."
And with an even stronger finish, the Senators don't have to answer any
more questions about a winless streak.
"It's a good thing we finally won a game," Havlat said. "We needed to win
Ottawa made an emergency recall of RW Denis Hamel from Binghamton of the
AHL. Hamel was acquired from Washington on Oct. 5.
Atlanta D Ivan Majesky limped off the ice after Ottawa's Chris Neil fell
on his left knee. Hartley said the injury was not believed to be serious.
Atlanta's 15-game start (7-4-3-1 for 18 points) was better than any
fifth-year expansion team in the past 10 years.
Robitaille's goal was Atlanta's first unassisted score of the season.
The Senators are 11-4-2 against the Thrashers.
Senators skid in, skate out a winner
By JOHN MANASSO
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
Seldom this season have the Thrashers seemed so angry with themselves
after a loss.
Entering the third period with the score tied, the Thrashers made a
critical turnover -- something that was a problem throughout the game --
and Ottawa made the most of it. Martin Havlat scored the game-winner with
10:34 left in regulation.
Bryan Smolinski added an empty-net goal in the final minute for a 5-3
victory before 13,547 at Philips Arena. It was the first time the
Thrashers had given up five goals or more since March 24 of last season.
"It started as a game of turnovers, and I thought it was pretty exciting
for the fans," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "At 3-3, I thought we
had the game where we wanted against a very experienced, very good hockey
club. I thought we were in good shape, but a costly turnover basically
cost us the game. That's the kind of mistake whenever you do these
against this team, they're going to make you pay for it."
On the decisive goal, the Thrashers could not clear the puck out of their
zone. The Senators kept the puck in at the blue line and got it to Havlat
along the boards, trapping a few Thrashers. Havlat whipped a wrist shot
from a steep angle past Pasi Nurminen, who allowed four goals for the
second time in his last three games.
"I don't know what happened," Nurminen said. "I felt unbelievable, great
today when I went out there. I think I was not ready to play. Four goals
is too much."
The victory snapped a five-game winless streak for the Senators, a 2003
Eastern Conference finalist who were predicted by some to win the Stanley
"They came out and played real hard," said left wing Jeff Cowan, who had
two assists and whose line with Ronald Petrovicky and Serge Aubin was the
team's best. They were the only three Thrashers who were on the plus side
"I felt we could have given a little more effort out there," Cowan said.
"We played hard as a team, I think, but if we could have given that
little extra. A couple of breakdowns on the defensive side cost us."
Defenseman Garnet Exelby said he thought the team's execution could have
"It's something different every night," he said. "We missed assignments
or made turnovers. We've got to figure it out from this dressing room."
Randy Robitaille had a goal and an assist, and Petrovicky tied his career
high with his fifth goal, his third in three games.
1 2 3 Final
Ottawa 2 1 2 5
Atlanta 2 1 0 3
First Period - 1, Atlanta, Petrovicky 5 (Cowan, Aubin), 10:34. 2,
Ottawa, Alfredsson 8 (Schaefer), 11:16. 3, Atlanta, Robitaille 3, 12:16.
4, Ottawa, Schaefer 4 (Spezza, Hnidy), 19:27. Penalties - Van Allen, OTT
(roughing), 14:38; Stewart, ATL (roughing), 14:38.
Second Period - 5, Ottawa, Smolinski 3, 0:27. 6, Atlanta, Tremblay 2
(Robitaille, Petrovicky), 2:13. Penalties - Petrovicky, ATL (high-
sticking), 2:13; Varada, OTT (roughing), 7:54; Schaefer, OTT (roughing),
9:51; Neil, OTT major (fighting), 13:05; Exelby, ATL major (fighting),
Third Period - 7, Ottawa, Havlat 2 (Bonk), 9:26. 8, Ottawa, Smolinski
4 (Schastlivy, Lalime), 19:00, (en). Penalties - Chara, OTT major
(fighting), 19:17; Lessard, ATL major (fighting), 19:17.
Shots On Goal - Ottawa 11-7-11=29. Atlanta 8-12-5=25.
Power-Play Conversions - Ottawa 0-1. Atlanta 0-2.
Goaltenders - Ottawa, Lalime (6-4-1)
Goaltenders - Atlanta, Nurminen (7-4-3)
Attendance - 13,547.
Referees - Mike Hasenfratz, Greg Kimmerly.
Linesmen - Angelo D'Amico, Scott Driscoll.