Series (Game 4 of 4)

Ottawa leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, November 14th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 22nd
Game 3: Thursday, February 20th
Game 4: Saturday, March 22nd

Senators 3

(48-20-1, 104 pts)

Panthers 1

(23-31-9, 67 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 22, 2003

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
OTT 0 0 33
FLA 0 1 01

M. Hossa (Senators - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

R. Luongo (Panthers - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: .944

K. Huselius (Panthers - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

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.

Marian Hossa
Right Wing
Ottawa Senators
73 42 32 74 6 28

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press