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CAROLINA 3, OTTAWA 2 (OT)

3/20/2004

OTTAWA (AP) -- Getting just one point at this time of the season
is not nearly enough for the Ottawa Senators.

Bret Hedican scored with 59.3 seconds remaining in overtime,
lifting the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory Saturday night
over the Senators.

Sean Hill and Josef Vasicek also scored for the Hurricanes, and
Arturs Irbe made 29 saves. Carolina rallied from a 2-1 deficit in
the third period to force overtime.

Jason Spezza and Marian Hossa had goals for the Senators, who
got 26 saves from Patrick Lalime.

Ottawa finished with the NHL's top record last season, but now
the Senators are in third place in the Northeast Division -- one
point behind Toronto and two behind Boston.

"We didn't start out like we would have liked," Senators
forward Mike Fisher said. "We didn't have much jump and they
really outworked us. We had the lead for most of the game even
though we didn't play that great. (Lalime) kept us in it."

But Ottawa needs victories to stay in the race for the division
title.

"It's so close that the one point could determine a lot,"
Fisher said.

Vasicek tied it when he scored a disputed goal with 8:58
remaining in regulation, redirecting Hill's point shot in off his
skate. After a video review, the goal stood.

"When you're going into the third with the lead we have to
protect it better," Senators defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "They
score and tie it and then it really opens up the game and changes
it."

Without a playoff spot in sight, the Hurricanes have little to
play for but pride and jobs.

"This was a big character builder for us," Hill said. "For us
to beat them at this time of year is a bit of a feather in our
cap."

The Senators took a 1-0 lead 14:10 in when Hossa beat Irbe stick
side despite being covered by Hedican.

Ottawa continued to struggle in the faceoff circle and paid the
price at 3:55 of the second period. Rod Brind'Amour won the draw
cleanly, allowing Hill to get a quick shot off that beat Lalime.

The Senators missed an opportunity to take control of the game
six minutes into the period after Hedican was given a double minor
for high-sticking Chris Neil. The Senators recorded just one shot
during the long advantage.

"This was a big game, especially for myself," said Irbe, who
spent much of the season in the minors. "When you play top teams
you're going to face the top players and you have to be able to run
with the big dogs. I'm just glad I was able to do it."

Spezza made up for the lackluster power play at 11:05 when he
scored his 20th of the season, ending a 17-game streak without a
goal. Spezza fired a sharp angle shot from the side of the net, and
the puck bounced in off Irbe's pads to make it 2-1.

"It was frustrating to go that long without (a goal)," Spezza
said. "It's good to get it out of the way."

The Hurricanes lost Erik Cole five minutes into the third period
after the forward collided with Chara. Cole was favoring his left
leg and seemed to be in discomfort.

"I think he might have been dehydrated," Hurricanes coach
Peter Laviolette said. "I'm not really sure what happened."

Game notes
Referee Terry Gregson called his final game in Canada. ...
Ottawa RW Daniel Alfredsson missed his third straight game due to a
charley horse.