Hossa ties for league lead in goals in beating Panthers


SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- It was fitting that Marian Hossa scored the
goal that gave Ottawa the Northeast Division title.

Hossa's goal with 36.7 seconds left broke a 1-1 tie as the
Senators beat Florida 3-1 Saturday night.

''He's done it all year for us,'' goalie Patrick Lalime said.
''He's a great player. He scores big goals at big times.''

Hossa tied Vancouver stars Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi for
the NHL goal lead with 43. After taking the puck in the corner,
Hossa skated backward toward the side of the net and used Olli
Jokinen as a screen, shooting the puck between the defenseman's
legs and past goalie Roberto Luongo.

It was the second time this season Hossa beat Florida with
a late goal. He scored with 1:04 left in regulation in Ottawa's 2-1
victory in the Office Depot Center on Jan. 22.

Ottawa, which has an NHL-leading 104 points, has won the
Northeast title three times in the past five seasons.

''It was one of our goals at the beginning of the season,''
Lalime said. ''Now we want to finish first overall.''

The Senators have a four-point lead over Detroit in the overall
standings, but the Red Wings have two games in hand.

The defeat extended Florida's franchise-record home winless streak
to 12 games at 0-9-2-1. The Panthers haven't won at home since
beating Carolina in overtime Jan. 25.

''We felt like we put ourselves in a position to win the game, but we weren't able to capitalize on all our chances,'' said center
Matt Cullen, who scored a short-handed goal for Florida late in the
second period.

''They made some big plays at the end when they needed them. It's
a step that we were able to put ourselves in a position to win
against one of the best teams in the league.''

Bryan Smolinski tied it for Ottawa at 9:22 of the third, and
Magnus Arvedson scored into an empty net with 22 seconds left.

Florida came into the game with an 18-0-2-2 record when leading
after two periods, while Ottawa was only 2-17-0 when trailing
heading into the third period.

''It's good to know (that we can come back),'' said Lalime, who
made 24 saves. ''We didn't know the stat, but everybody was
confident we could come back.''

Ottawa tied it on a three-way passing play among Smolinski,
Arvedson and Todd White. White carried the puck over the blue line
and passed to Arvedson, who one-timed a cross-ice pass to
Smolinski. Smolinski then one-timed it between Luongo's legs.

''It was such a great play on the first one,'' Lalime said.

Cullen gave Florida the lead with his 13th goal of the season,
his first in eight games. Kristian Huselius poked the puck away
from Ottawa's Radek Bonk to create a two-on-one break. Huselius
held the puck until defenseman Wade Redden went down and then slid
a pass over to Cullen, who shot into the open net.

''We came into the dressing room after giving up the
short-handed goal and had a few words,'' Hossa said. ''We
absolutely wanted to win. And we were able to find a way to win.''

Florida missed a chance to pad its lead when Ivan Novoseltsev
had a breakaway early in the third period, but Lalime denied his
attempt to put the puck between his legs on a deke.

''I thought we got a big save by Patrick in the third on the
breakaway,'' Senators coach Jacques Martin said. ''That changed the
whole game when he made that save.''

Game notes
The singing of the Canadian anthem drew loud and steady
booing. Fans greeted the start of ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' with
loud applause. The Panthers issued an apology in a prepared
statement. ''The entire Florida Panthers organization regrets that
a number of fans behaved disrespectfully during the playing of the
Canadian anthem.'' ... Ottawa played without leading scorer Daniel
Alfredsson (hip flexor) and wing Peter Schaefer (lower back). ...
Luongo set a Florida record for goalies by appearing in his 61st
game this season.