Senators force a seventh face off


Fri, May 23, 2003 - Page 24

Defenseman Chris Phillips scored 15:51 into overtime Wednesday to lift the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

The win made the second straight game the Senators fought off elimination, forcing a Game 7 on Friday in Ottawa.

"Even when we were down 3-1, there was not one guy in our dressing room or organization that counted ourselves out," Phillips said.

Vaclav Varada was trying to hit the loose puck in front of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, but all he was making contact with was the New Jersey goalie. Trailing the play, Phillips found the loose puck behind Varada and fired it into the net.

"I was just able to get in there and get a whack at it," Phillips said. "I didn't even realize it went in until the other guys started celebrating."

Patrick Lalime kept the Senators alive in the extra session by fighting off several New Jersey flurries. The biggest threat came from Brian Gionta, who was stopped on a 2-on-1 with Patrik Elias.

New Jersey, trying to reach the Stanley Cup finals for the third time in four years, has never lost a series in which it led 3-1. The Senators have never advanced this far in the playoffs in their 11-year history.

"We have to play one game. That's going to be the hardest game," said forward Marian Hossa who assisted on both Ottawa goals. ``We're going to be home and that's a good thing.''

"That's all we wanted to do, to have practice tomorrow," forward Bryan Smolinski said.

There have been 17 comebacks from 3-1 deficits, including three in this year's playoffs.