Senators even series with OT win
The Battle of Ontario is going to a final and decisive game. Mike Fisher scored a little over a minute into a second overtime period to lift the hometown Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.
With the win, the Senators evened their best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series with the Leafs at three games apiece. Game 7 is at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Tuesday (CBC 7 pm ET)
After fighting through a check by defenceman Aki Berg deep in Toronto's end, Antoine Vermette worked his way to the right side of the Leafs' net and shoveled a quick pass across the top of the crease to Fisher, who chipped the puck past Leafs goalie Ed Belfour for his first goal of the post-season.
"We were trying to use our legs to wear down their [defencemen] and we knew eventually it would come," explained Fisher in a post-game interview with CBC.
"We were getting tired. We just kept plugging away."
Fisher's goal spoiled what was another magnificent performance from Belfour. The Leafs' netminder made 44 saves and, for two periods, looked almost unbeatable. Belfour already has three shutouts in the series.
"Every guy [on the Leafs] should do is take their playoff cheques and say thanks Eddie and send it to him," said colourful, and controversial, Hockey Night In Canada commentator Don Cherry during his Coach's Corner segment on Sunday.
"If it wasn't for Belfour the Leafs would have been out four straight," added Cherry.
As they've done throughout much of the series, the Senators out-skated, out-chanced and out-shot the Leafs in Game 6, but due to Belfour's heroics, those efforts didn't show up on the score sheet until the third period.
At 4:55, after more than five periods without a goal, Zdeno Chara halted Belfour's latest shutout streak at just under 117 minutes.
The big defenceman circled out from behind the Leafs' net and snapped a shot that snuck in past Belfour on the short side. Chara's first goal of the playoffs tied the game at 1-1.
The Leafs opened the scoring in the first period during a 5-on-3 power play.
With Peter Bondra and Greg de Vries in the penalty box, the Leafs controlled the puck in the Senators zone. After taking a pass at the blue-line from Brian Leetch, Bryan McCabe wristed a shot that deflected off the skate of Ottawa defender Brian Pothier and ricocheted past Senators goalie Patrick Lalime.
Toronto was minus its captain, and offensive heart and soul, Mats Sundin, for a second straight matchup after he left Game 4 with an unspecified lower-body injury.
Sundin's absence was reflected in yet another lacklustre offensive effort by the Leafs.
"We tried to sit on that 1-0 [lead] a little too long," said Leafs coach Pat Quinn after the game.
"We just weren't relentless enough."
The Leafs did have a glorious chance to win the series with just over a minute left in the third period. Ron Francis redirected a perfect pass from Gary Roberts, but Lalime kicked out his left skate and got just enough of the puck, which then rang off the right post.
The loss was the first for Toronto in the five playoff meetings with Ottawa that have gone to overtime. The Senators improved their record to 3-7 all-time when facing elimination.