OTTAWA (AP) -- The Ottawa Senators proved they can finally handle
the weight of being a playoff favorite.
height=90 align=right alt="Todd White">
height=90 align=right alt="Radek Bonk">
three games as Ottawa beat the New York Islanders 4-1 Thursday
night to win their first-round playoff series in five games.
After opening their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with
a stunning 3-0 loss to New York, the Presidents' Trophy-winning
Senators reeled off four straight wins.
Ottawa, swept in each of the two previous playoff series in which
it had home-ice advantage.
"Our confidence definitely grew as the series went on,'' White
said. "We might have been a little bit nervous to start the series
but I think as it went on we gained more and more confidence and
played the type of hockey that we played during the regular
Mark Parrish scored the only goal for New York, which finished
the season eighth in the East, 30 points behind Ottawa's
league-high and team-record 113.
"I'm impressed with their resilience,'' said Islanders captain
Michael Peca, held without a point in the series. "They're a
balanced club that just keeps coming at you and they really play
with a lot of class. You just take your hat off to them, I guess.''
The Senators, who have made the playoffs seven straight seasons,
won just their third playoff series -- and first as the
"I think we've learned that it doesn't matter if we're the
favorite, we've just got to play our game and do the things we do
best,'' said Ottawa defenseman Wade Redden, who assisted on the
Senators' first two goals.
White, who had two goals -- including the winner -- in Ottawa's
3-2 double-overtime victory in Game 3, scored midway through the
second period Thursday night to put the Senators up 2-1.
Bonk, who assisted on Havlat's power-play goal to open the
scoring in the first, gave Ottawa a two-goal lead with 1:47 left in
the period when he redirected Havlat's pass beyond goalie Garth
Snow for his first goal of the playoffs.
Bonk added an empty-net goal with 2:15 remaining for his third
point of the game.
New York was eliminated in the first round for the second
straight season after missing the playoffs a franchise-record seven
years in a row. The Islanders have lost four playoff series since
beating Pittsburgh 4-3 in the 1993 Patrick Division final.
"I don't think they were that impressive,'' Islanders
defenseman Adrian Aucoin said of the Senators. "I think they're
going to have to be better.
"Once they get the lead, they play a solid system. We're more
disappointed at the way we played.''
With the Islanders facing elimination following a 3-1 home loss
in Game 4 one night earlier, New York held a 9-7 edge in shots in
the first. But the Senators opened the scoring on the second of
their two power-play opportunities in the period.
Islanders forward Shawn Bates accidentally redirected Havlat's
attempted pass to Marian Hossa into the net with 6:07 to go to put
Ottawa up 1-0 and send the Corel Centre crowd into a towel-waving frenzy.
Parrish, held without a point through the first four games,
evened the scored on a five-on-three at 6:48 of the second.
White whipped up the crowd again less than three minutes later
when he beat Snow to put Ottawa up 2-1.
The 21-year-old Havlat made a sensational play to set up Bonk's
goal with 1:47 left in the second. He cut across the ice from the
right wing boards before passing back to the right edge of the
crease, where Bonk tipped the puck past Snow.
The Islanders pressed throughout the third, but Bonk got the
period's only goal when he scored into an empty net with 2:15
Islanders C Alexei Yashin was held to just one goal over
the last four games of the series after having a goal and an assist
in Game 1. New York captain Michael Peca was held without a point
in the series. ... Bonk has just five goals and 10 assists in 41
career playoff games. ... Senators D Karel Rachunek returned to the
lineup after missing Wednesday's game because of a leg injury.
Ottawa returned D Brian Pothier to Binghamton of the AHL. ...
Ottawa is 21-28 overall in the playoffs. ... The Islanders haven't
made it past the first round of the playoffs since the 1992-93
season when they went to the Eastern Conference final.<