Lalime gave every indication he is up to the task Saturday night as he made 23 saves in the Senators' 3-1 victory over the defending Western Conference champion Dallas Stars.
Alexei Yashin, Rob Zamuner and Andreas Dackell each scored Ottawa goals as the Senators captured their home opener. The Senators are 5-1-3 on opening night since rejoining the NHL in 1992-93.
"As the game went on, I think their impact players were better than our impact players and that was the difference," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Grant Marshall countered for the Stars, who played the first of a three-game road swing.
A sellout crowd of 18,500 at the Corel Centre continued to let Ottawa star center Yashin know how it felt about his year-long contract holdout.
Yashin was booed mildly as he stepped onto the ice for warmups, and then robustly when the Senators were introduced before the opening faceoff. The boos continued intermittently throughout the game.
The teams played a scoreless first period with Dallas building an 11-4 shot advantage.
Lalime, the game's first star, made a spectacular save on Joe Nieuwendyk with 40.6 seconds left in the first.
Neuwendyk, just back from a sprained wrist, took a pass from Brenden Morrow and had an open side. Lalime dove across his crease to stop Nieuwendyk's shot with his stick.
"It's one of those where you just dive for it and cross your fingers," said Lalime, who backed up Ron Tugnutt and Tom Barrasso in his first season with the team last year. He went 19-14-3, with a 2.33 goals against average last season.
"It was a big challenge, a big win ... especially with (defensemen) Wade Redden and Sami Salo out of the lineup," Lalime said.
Ottawa is starting the season with Lalime and backup Jani Hurme, who has only one game of NHL experience.
"Patrick was very solid," Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. "That was an unbelievable save and it certainly didn't go unnoticed on the bench. It gives the team a lot of confidence."
Cheers were mixed with boos when Yashin opened the scoring 3:56 into the second period. Yashin, on his backhand, redirected a pass from Shawn McEachern past goalie Ed Belfour for his first goal of the season.
Yashin has six goals in 12 career games against the Stars.
Zamuner tapped Vaclav Prospal's centering pass from the right boards past Belfour with 4:46 left in the period to give the Senators a 2-0 lead.
Nieuwendyk beat the second-period buzzer with a pass from the side of the net to Grant Marshall in front. Marshall popped the puck over a fallen Lalime with 1.9 seconds left.
Dackell scored into an empty net with 39 seconds remaining.
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed