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Senators lose in shootout after late rally

by Brian Compton
Daniel Alfredsson netted a pair of goals but it was not enough to prevent Ottawa from losing their seventh straight game, as the Senators fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout.
Judging by the way they rallied in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime, one had to be under the impression that the Ottawa Senators’ six-game losing streak was about to come to an end.
No such luck.
Daniel Alfredsson scored twice in the third period and Wade Redden erased a 3-2 deficit with 1:21 remaining, but Vaclav Prospal scored in the fourth round of the shootout as the Sens’ woes continued with a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum on Tuesday night.

It marks the first time Ottawa has dropped seven straight games since Feb. 22-March 9, 1996.
''I think we tried hard all game long, worked it pretty good, tried to create chances,'' Alfredsson said. ''It's obviously very nice to see that we got rewarded. We would have loved to have won it in the shootout, but we're happy with getting a point.''
Mathieu Darche gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead just 3:43 into the game ( 700K ), capitalizing on an ugly turnover by Redden. The Ottawa defenseman tried to make a pass through the slot, but it was picked off by Jan Hlavac, who fed Darche for his third tally in as many games. Tampa Bay went up by pair just moments after Redden had finished serving a holding penalty, as Chris Gratton ended a 21-game drought with 8:26 left in the first ( 700K ).
After several missed opportunities through the first two periods, Alfredsson finally got the Sens going with a power play goal at the 7:01 mark of the third ( 700K ). The Lightning struck right back, however, as Pavel Kubina regained Tampa Bay’s two goal lead when he beat Ray Emery just 2:07 later ( 700K ).
Alfredsson, however, got the Sens back to within a goal with 1:57 to play with his second goal of the game ( 700K ). Redden beat Lightning goalie Johan Holmqvist just 36 seconds later to complete an improbable comeback for the struggling club ( 700K ).
Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella wasn’t exactly pleased with the way his team played in the third period, but nonetheless was pleased to leave the rink with two very important points.
''I'm not talking any negatives,'' Lightning coach John Tortorella said. ''We won a big hockey game against a pretty good hockey team. Mistakes were made. They will be addressed.''
Holmqvist didn’t make many mistakes in the shootout, as Jason Spezza was the only Ottawa skater to beat him, which came in the third round to make it 1-1. Prospal immediately beat Emery to put Tampa Bay back in front, and Holmqvist denied Dany Heatley as the Sens were handed another disappointing loss.
''It's pro sports and winning is the only thing that matters, but we're in kind of a slump,'' Alfredsson said. ''As a team, when you see everybody working and you see everybody really pulling together, that's a good sign. That's a sign of better things to come, I believe.''

Maple Leafs 3, Predators 1 | Video
You know things are going your way when you get outshot 35-15, and still come away with two points in the standings.

You really know things are going your way when Wade Belak contributes offensively.
Playing in his 407th NHL game, the stay-at-home defenseman potted his eighth career goal as the Leafs – despite being outplayed for the majority of the night -- won their third straight with a victory over Nashville in front of a packed house at Air Canada Centre.
Belak’s goal was Toronto’s third abnormal tally of the night and gave the Leafs a 3-0 lead 2:48 into the third period ( 700K ). It was his first goal since Dec. 20, 2003, as he had a wide open net to shoot at after Chad Kilger’s long shot deflected off Nashville defenseman Greg Zanon and right onto Belak’s stick.
"Everything happened so quick," Belak said of his first goal in 143 games. "It's finally over. Time to start a new (streak). I had pretty much given up on scoring. I've been trying to keep them out of our net. I don't know the last time I scored, I think (Bill) Clinton was president."
Nik Antropov broke a scoreless tie on the very first shot of the game ( 700K ). After Predators goalie Chris Mason – who finished with just 12 saves – came out to challenge a shot from Hal Gill, the puck hit Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis before landing on the stick of Antropov, who also had a wide open net to shoot at as the Leafs took a 1-0 lead just 28 seconds into the contest.
Matt Stajan made it 2-0 early in the second period. With his back to the net ( 700K ), Stajan managed to knock the puck out of the air with a backhand shot that beat Mason for his sixth goal of the season.
Not lost in the shuffle was the play of Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala, who finished with 34 saves and made a brilliant stop on Jason Arnott ( 700K ) with just over eight minutes to play in the third period. Toskala managed to get his left pad on Arnott’s point-blank chance, forcing the veteran forward to simply shake his head in disbelief. Ninety seconds later, Toskala denied him again ( 700K ).
"He stole the show," said Arnott, who had 12 shots on goal. "He played exceptionally well. "We were on the wrong end of the bounces."
But the Predators ended Toskala’s shutout bid when Shea Weber found the back of the net with 5:55 to play in regulation ( 700K ). Toskala couldn’t see the blue-line shot as he was screened by a handful of players.
"We definitely would like to start on the other side of the ledger for once," Weber said. "We have confidence that we can come back in games...but we've got to start out with the lead."

Flames 3, Blues 1 | Video
Marcus Nilson and the Calgary Flames snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night.
Leave it to Dustin Boyd to get Calgary back on track. The 21-year-old fourth-liner broke a 1-1 tie with 2:56 left in the second period ( 700K ), and Kristian Huselius added an insurance goal late in the third ( 700K ) as the Flames ended a four-game slide with a win over St. Louis at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Blues goalie Hannu Toivonen was solid in a surprise start, as he was forced between the pipes after Manny Legace injured his knee during warmups. But Calgary limited St. Louis — which lost in regulation for just the second time in 11 games (8-2-1) —  to just 22 shots against Miikka Kiprusoff.
“I think Miikka played exceptionally well in the first period to keep us in the game,” Flames coach Mike Keenan said. “We had a struggle with our poise after that initial set back to a certain extent.”
Lee Stempniak got the Blues’ lone goal ( 700K ), beating Kiprusoff just 36 seconds into the game. After scoring only once in his first 22 games this season, the surging forward has scored in each of his last three contests.
Marcus Nilson evened things up when he beat Toivonen at 8:21 of the second period ( 700K . Toivonen made a terrific glove save on a blast from Daymond Langkow ( 700K ), but Nilson raced to the net and jabbed the home rebound to make it 1-1.
“Hannu had a solid game in goal for us,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “He made some big saves, and I give the Flames credit. They have been playing real hard for the past number of games. We’ve watched the tapes, we were prepared for that, got off to a good start tonight. But give the Flames credit … they played a hard brand of hockey tonight.”
Boyd put the Flames in front when he managed to score from behind the net, as he flipped the puck off the back of Toivonen and into the net for his first goal of the season and the third of his NHL career.
“He found me back door,” Boyd said of a pass from Alex Tanguay. “I tried to bank it in. It hit his back and went over the line. We had to make sure we crashed the net. He made a lot of great saves. We had to keep pushing.”
Huselius made it 3-1 when he beat Toivonen on a breakaway with 1:33 remaining in regulation, sealing the Blues’ fate. St. Louis will look to bounce back at Edmonton on Friday night, when Murray will be in search of a better effort.
“We had 17 players out of the 20 dressed that played below average,” Murray said. “When you have that many players performing below average, you don’t have a chance.”

Material from wire services was used in this report.
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