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Shootout Stops Leafs in Opener

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

October 4, 2005 -

(Canadian Press) - The Ottawa Senators won the first shootout in NHL history Wednesday night.

The shootout began with Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson beating Toronto goalie Ed Belfour low to the catching mitt side with a wrist shot.

Jason Allison had the Maple Leafs' first chance and had the puck poke-checked off his stick by Dominik Hasek.

Martin Havlat had his wrist shot glance off Belfour's stick, and Eric Lindros then took a high shot that missed Hasek's net.

When Dany Heatley planted the puck the same place Alfredsson had aimed, Ottawa had a 3-2 victory.

Alfredsson had tied it 2-2 with his second goal of the game with 62 seconds left in regulation, deflating a capacity Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,452 happy to see the NHL back after the lockout-lost 2003-2004 season.

After a scoreless, five-minute overtime, each team selected three players for the shootout.

The Leafs thought they had this one won when Lindros scored with 1:31 left in regulation. They'd led most of the way after Bryan McCabe scored three minutes into the game.

The Leafs lost more than a game. Captain Mats Sundin was cut around an eye by a puck seven minutes in and did not return. Sundin was patched up and will be re-examined Thursday.

The Senators appeared for two periods to be flat _ other than for Havlat who had plenty of zip and Jason Spezza who was the game's top playmaker with two assists. The Senators took too many penalties to mount a concerted offence. But, in the end, Alfredsson came through and they were good enough to win it.

Ottawa was 0-for-5 and Toronto 1-for-10 on power plays in the game.

Ottawa centre Bryan Smolinski had the first scoring chance and Belfour, seemingly down and out, somehow got back into position to get his catching mitt in front of the puck. Smolinski motioned to the officials that the puck was across the line but play continued. Television replays tended to prove Smolinski was right.

McCabe got a power-play goal at 2:58. Chris Neil was off for tripping. McCabe's blue-line slapshot whistled into a lower corner of the net before Hasek could get to it.

Belfour robbed Havlat 6{ minutes in, sticking out his left leg to stop the close-in chance.

There were nine penalties in the first period but only one for an obstruction-type infraction.

In the second period, Hasek stopped Darcy Tucker on a breakaway after Jeff O'Neill fed a long pass of the two-line kind now legal as part of league improvisations to spark offence. The Senators took four of the five penalties assessed in the period but Toronto couldn't score.

The referees were calling even the slightest hold and hook in accordance with the crackdown on obstruction.

Spezza passed the puck from behind the Toronto net to set up Alfredsson for the 1-1 goal at 14:12 of the third.

Lindros smashed Mike Fisher to the ice with a hard but clean check, and the Leafs got a critical power play when Neil retaliated and was sent off at 16:23.

Seconds after the penalty expired, Lindros skated into the middle of the Ottawa zone, gathered in a Tomas Kaberle pass and whipped a wrist shot past Hasek.

The crowd was prepared to celebrate, but Alfredsson had other ideas. Spezza, behind Belfour's net, slid the pass that the Sens captain deadlocked it 2-2.

Notes: Linesman David Brisebois left the game after being cut late in overtime . . . The traditional opening-night performance of The Maple Leaf Forever by the 48th Highlanders preceded Stompin' Tom Connors' appearance to sing The Hockey Song during the pre-game show. The Barenaked Ladies sang the anthem . . . Toronto's second game is at home against Montreal on Saturday . . . Ottawa plays its home opener against Buffalo on Saturday . . . Toronto won four and tied one of its six games against Ottawa in 2003-2004, and knocked of the Senators in the first round of the playoffs . . . Each time the Leafs celebrate a goal, a new foghorn bellows throughout the arena . . . Walter Gretzky, father of all-time leading scorer Wayne Gretzky, was in attendance.

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