Thursday, October 06, 2005

Big E shows a glimpse of what he is capable of

TORONTO (CP) - For 39 seconds Eric Lindros had himself a storybook entry as a Maple Leaf, scoring what 19,452 rabid fans thought for sure was the winning goal with 1:31 left in the third period of Toronto's season opener Wednesday night.
The goal capped a magical pair of shifts in which he levelled Ottawa Senators centre Mike Fisher and drew a penalty after Chris Neil cross-checked him to retaliate.
But, just like his topsy-turvy career, it was too good to be true. Daniel Alfredsson scored with 1:02 left in the third and his Senators won it the NHL's first-ever shootout.
"I could have been," Lindros responded when asked about his nearly perfect night. "But it's done and over and we look forward to Saturday."
Lindros, playing his first regular-season game as a Leaf after signing a $1.55-million US, one-year deal in August, had another chance to provide heroics but missed the net in the shootout when he tried to beat Sens goalie Dominik Hasek glove-hand to the top corner.
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"It didn't feel too good when you can't even send out your third guy to shoot," Lindros said, referring to the fact Ottawa won the shootout before a third Leaf could even be sent out. "I missed the net and you can't score unless you hit the net."
Make it 2-for-2 for Hasek on Lindros in shootout attempts, the first one a little more memorable when Lindros grazed the crossbar with a backhand shot in Canada's stunning semifinal loss to the Czech Republic at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano.
"I'm not even going there," Lindros said before leaving reporters, refusing to delve into the past.<
Still, for opening acts, Lindros was a good one. He was a physical force all night long and was second on the team with five shots on goal. He started the game on the third line between Tie Domi and Chad Kilger but got promoted as head coach Pat Quinn shuffled his lines after Mats Sundin was knocked out with an eye injury.<
Lindros responded well to the extra ice time, leading all Leaf forwards with 24 minutes 52 seconds.
"I thought from shift to shift that he was very good tonight," said Quinn. "It's the kind of consistency you like to see and the level he played at. He did really well tonight, he played a very strong game. If that continues, and I'm certain that it will, we like what we have here."
Lindros didn't exactly impress anyone during the pre-season but obviously had a another gear when the puck dropped for real Wednesday.
"He's a great addition to our hockey team," said Leafs centre Matt Stajan. "He scored that big goal near the end but it just didn't fall our way. But he played great and I think you're going to see that from him all year."
The 32-year-old Lindros was the best player on the New York Rangers in 2003-04 before yet another concussion knocked him out that year. But a year off thanks to the lockout may have given him the kind of time he needed to fully recuperate and Leaf fans may benefit this season.

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