OTTAWA (AP) - The addition of Martin Havlat to Ottawa's already dominant lineup was too much for the defending Stanley Cup champions, and it might prove to be the difference in the Senators' bid to claim their first title.
Havlat helped Ottawa finish off Tampa Bay in five games Saturday night, scoring a power-play goal in the second period and adding an assist in the Senators' 3-2 victory over the Lightning.
Peter Schaefer and Andrej Meszaros scored first-period goals and Ray Emery made 26 saves for Ottawa, which won the series 4-1 to advance past the first round for the fourth time in nine straight playoff appearances since 1996-97.
"That's the first step," said Havlat, who scored in every game.
One day after attending his mother's funeral, Wade Redden assisted on both Ottawa goals in the first. The Senators defenseman - who missed Game 2, Ottawa's only loss, following his mother's death from cancer - was hugged tightly by his father, Doug, and his brother, Bart, in a hallway outside the team's dressing room.
"You could see he was at his best tonight, I know his mother wanted that," said Doug Redden, who was embraced by several other Senators, including injured goalie Dominik Hasek.
"Everybody's pretty proud, and obviously me, too," Wade Redden said. "To finish it off tonight, that was such a good feeling, and to have Dad and Bart down, that was a great feeling."
Evgeny Artyukhin and Brad Richards scored in the second for the Lightning, who twice drew within one in the period, but were unable to tie it.
"I just finished playing them and I don't really like them but they have a lot of good players," Richards said. "Someone like Wade Redden, I hope he gets a chance to win it, especially with all the things surrounding him. He showed what kind of athlete he was in going through all that. They've got a great team."
Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle was penalized for tripping with 3:34 left in the third with 20 seconds remaining on a Tampa Bay power play. The Lightning got their fourth and final man advantage with 55 seconds left, but failed to generate the equalizer as the 20,004 fans came to their feet with an explosive cheer when Ottawa cleared the puck out of its zone with less than 10 seconds remaining.
"We didn't win many one-goal games all year so we had to find a way to win one tonight, and we did," Senators coach Bryan Murray said.
Havlat had a goal in every game of the series. Limited to 18 games during the regular season because of a groin injury and a dislocated shoulder, the Czech right wing had 10 points during the five-game series.
"Marty Havlat's the best pick up after the trade deadline," said center Jason Spezza, who had an assist and also finished with 10 points, recording at least one in all five games. "When you get a guy that explosive and he's playing on arguably our third line, teams can't match up against three lines like we have it."
Dany Heatley had two assists to give the Senators three 10-point scorers in the series. Emery made his fifth straight start of the series for Ottawa, the top seed in the East.
"Different guys were expected to step up on different nights and I think that's what we had, depth in scoring," Spezza said. "Three of us had a series like that and the other guys were great. The puck didn't go in for everybody but the next series the puck will go in for other guys. It was great to have that success early, we're going to have a good night tonight and celebrate a little bit, then move on."
The Senators, who won for the fifth time in 13 playoff series, will face the lowest seed remaining among Montreal (seventh), Philadelphia (fifth) and Buffalo (fourth) once the first round is completed.
Tampa Bay veteran Sean Burke stopped 35 shots in his first playoff start since April 26, 2002, when he and the Phoenix Coyotes were eliminated from the playoffs by San Jose. Burke replaced John Grahame in each of the previous two games - both losses - in Tampa Bay.
"They were a better hockey club than we were," Burke said. "They played with more confidence, they played with more poise, and we're not going to sit here and try to convince everybody that we got the raw end of the deal. They beat us because they did things better than we did."
The Lightning fell in their first playoff series since becoming Stanley Cup champions in 2004.
"They played like that tonight, I have to say that," Murray said. "They got the goaltending, their best players played terrific for them, Danny Boyle on the back end was all over the ice, I thought Lecavalier, Richards and St. Louis, the people that have to play well for an organization like Tampa Bay played well for them and there was a lot of pressure throughout the game."
Havlat set up Schaefer to open the scoring 12:53 in. Schaefer appeared to have scored his second of the game moments later but a video review determined that he did not make contact with the puck with his stick after he kicked it ahead twice before it went into the net off Burke's left pad.
The crowd roared its displeasure at the reversal, then switched back to jubilation mode again shortly thereafter when Meszaros scored his first career playoff goal at 15:44 with a slap shot from the point to put the Senators up by two.
Artyukhin got his first career playoff goal 1:37 into the second to cut the lead to 2-1.
With Ruslan Fedotenko off for tripping, Ottawa converted its fourth of five power-play opportunities in the first two periods when Spezza and Heatley combined to set up Havlat, who was left alone in the slot to take Heatley's quick pass from the right corner and put a shot past Burke at 15:02 to make it 3-1.
Tampa Bay battled back once again as Richards scored his third goal in four games with 1:45 left in the second to make it a one-goal game again.
Emery stopped Vincent Lecavalier's backhander from the faceoff circle on a break down the right side 8:26 into the third.
Notes: Burke appeared in one game with Philadelphia in the 2003-04 playoffs, allowing one goal while replacing the injured Robert Esche for the last two periods of a 7-2 win over Toronto on May 2. ... Boyle went to the dressing room briefly in the second after he was struck in the face by the puck on Schaefer's clearing attempt. Boyle returned to the bench moments later. ... Havlat had seven goals and 21 points in 41 playoff games prior to the series.
|Peter Schaefer (2) ASST: Martin Havlat (4), Wade Redden (3)|
1 - 0 OTT
|Andrej Meszaros (1) ASST: Wade Redden (4), Dany Heatley (7)|
2 - 0 OTT
|Evgeny Artyukhin (1) ASST: Cory Sarich (1), Vincent Lecavalier (3)|
2 - 1 OTT
|PPG - Martin Havlat (6) ASST: Dany Heatley (8), Jason Spezza (8)|
3 - 1 OTT
|Brad Richards (3) ASST: Dan Boyle (3)|
3 - 2 OTT
|Christoph Schubert Holding the stick against Freddy Modin|
|Pavel Kubina Hooking against Antoine Vermette|
|Ruslan Fedotenko Hooking against Jason Spezza|
|Brad Richards Hooking against Jason Spezza|
|Ruslan Fedotenko Tripping against Martin Havlat|
|Dimitri Afanasenkov Tripping against Zdeno Chara|
|Anton Volchenkov Hooking against Vincent Lecavalier|
|Zdeno Chara Hooking against Cory Sarich|
|Dan Boyle Tripping against Daniel Alfredsson|
|Peter Schaefer Delaying Game-Puck over glass|