Senators strike first at Lightning


OTTAWA – Martin Havlat and Jason Spezza scored power-play goals 1:07 apart early in the third period and Mike Fisher added a short-handed goal as the Ottawa Senators rallied to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opener of the Eastern Conference playoff series Friday night.

Daniel Alfredsson scored into an empty net with 1:02 remaining and Ray Emery made 35 saves for the Senators in his postseason debut. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be Sunday in Ottawa.

Emery, who drew an assist on Spezza’s go-ahead goal 6:13 into the third, has carried the load for the Senators since Dominik Hasek was injured during the Olympics. He won 12 games in March to tie an NHL record for wins in a month.

Vincent Lecavalier opened the scoring on a two-man advantage late in the first and Tampa Bay – which outshot Ottawa 16-11 in a fast-paced opening period – held a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes.

Havlat, limited to 18 games this season because of injuries, tied it during Ottawa’s fifth power play at 5:06 of the third.

The Czech forward deked Lightning goalie John Grahame and fired a shot over his outstretched right pad.

Havlat then skated to the left corner and jumped into the boards, banging his gloves against the glass as fans jumped to their feet to create a sea of red jerseys, shirts, jackets and Thunderstix in the crowd.

Spezza assisted on Havlat’s goal and gave the Senators a 2-1 lead moments later, beating Grahame over his left shoulder with a sharp-angled shot for Ottawa’s second straight power-play goal.

Fisher made it a two-goal lead at 9:37 when he scored over Grahame’s right pad to finish off a pretty pass from Peter Schaefer on a 2-on-1. The Senators led the NHL with 25 short-handed goals.

Playing in just his third career playoff game, Grahame made a fine glove save on Dany Heatley in the first, and topped that with a spectacular grab on Antoine Vermette’s slap shot on a short-handed 2-on-1 opportunity 6:45 into the second.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning took advantage of two Ottawa penalties 41 seconds apart to open the scoring. Lecavalier scored on a fine passing play just 13 seconds into the two-man advantage.

Predators 4, Sharks 3

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Paul Kariya found his teammates all night long.

Adam Hall scored the go-ahead goal at 12:06 of the third period by redirecting a shot by Kariya, who assisted on all four of Nashville’s power-play goals in the Predators’ 4-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Friday in the opener of the first-round Western Conference series.

Mike Sillinger scored and had an assist, and Martin Erat and rookie defenseman Shea Weber both netted their first career playoff goals as the Predators showed why they enjoyed the NHL’s best home-ice advantage this season.

The Predators opened their second playoff appearance on their own ice where they led the league with a 32-8-1 record. And the sellout crowd roared for every move.

The fifth-seeded Sharks had won eight of nine, and they also brought in the NHL’s top offensive threats in Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo. Thornton had a league-high 125 points, and Cheechoo led the NHL with 56 goals, but they were held to just one assist from Thornton.

Mike Smith scored 4:12 in for the Sharks, who went 30-8 in the regular season when taking a 1-0 lead. Nils Ekman was set up by Thornton in the second period, and Scott Thornton tied it 3-3 in the third.

Chris Mason made his playoff debut and did a fine job in replacing No. 1 goalie Tomas Vokoun, who carried the Predators to 36 victories but is out for the season with a blood condition. A day after turning 30, Mason made 31 saves in winning his seventh straight game.

Red Wings 3, Oilers 2

DETROIT – Kirk Maltby scored his second goal of the night 2:39 into double overtime to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Friday.

Edmonton’s Dwayne Roloson made 54 saves while Manny Legace finished with 23 for the Red Wings.

Maltby ended the game that lasted 31/2 hours with a long shot from outside the right circle that was deflected past Roloson by the stick of Edmonton teammate Rem Murray.

Maltby made it 2-all with 6:17 left in regulation when he scored off a rebound on a goal that stood after a video review. He had just five goals this season after scoring 14 in each of the previous two.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven Western Conference series is Sunday in Detroit.

Three of the four regular-season meetings went to overtime with Detroit winning the lone game decided in regulation. The Red Wings won once in overtime, and the Oilers won a game in overtime and another in a shootout.

The Red Wings entered the playoffs with the best record in the NHL for the third time in four seasons, but they are coming off two straight early postseason exits.

Detroit got off to a good start, with Robert Lang scoring on the power play for a 1-0 lead 4:05 in, but Legace gave up goals on two of the first seven shots he faced.

Edmonton’s Sergei Samsonov made it 1-all midway through the first period, and Chris Pronger’s slap shot from just inside the middle of the blue line at 8:43 of the second gave the gritty Oilers the lead.

Maltby scored when he charged toward the net and got the middle of his stick on a rebound off Johan Franzen’s shot.

The sellout crowd erupted when the red lamp was lit, and did again following a review.