Don't tell these Leafs that preseason games don't mean anything. Toronto's 5-4 win over Ottawa on Sunday had more intensity than your average preseason game and the Leafs, to a man, saw the game as payback for the 7-0 beating administered by the Senators just a few days earlier.
"When you get spanked 7-0 you want to redeem yourself," said Alexander Mogilny after what was likely his best game with his new team in the preseason. "We wanted to get a quick start and did but we allowed them back in it with a couple of power plays goals."
Gary Roberts, the feistiest player on the ice, the game's first star, and the recipient of a punch in the head after the game's final horn also knew his team would respond after the shellacking earlier in the week.
"When you lose 7-0 you want to make sure it doesn't happen again but we let it slip away. We definitely played a more spirited game."
Aside from the physical play, Roberts had some brilliant individual moments. He did his best impersonation of Edwin Moses in the first period by hurdling over a sliding defender, before circling around the net and shoving the puck in the cage from the other side. Roberts also had a nifty setup to Bryan McCabe for the opening goal less than one minute into the contest.
It would be safe to say that the level of play wasn't at midseason form but it was certainly an entertaining game sparked by the rivalry brewing between the two clubs.
"It's possibly left over from last season but I think losing 7-0 didn't help matters," said Darcy Tucker who knows the revenge game better than most.
Tie Domi was his usual rambunctious self and the spark for many of the game's numerous feisty moments. Several other Leafs had strong performances. Mogilny used his quick hands to demonstrate his fine scoring touch in recording his first goal in a Leafs uniform and created numerous other good scoring opportunitites. Robert Reichel recorded a couple assists on picture-perfect setups and Jeff Farkas continued his bid for a spot on the club with more strong play.
The happiest man in the building was probably goalie Mike Minard. He was the victim of all seven goals in the last meeting but replaced starter Mikael Tellqvist midway through this game and did not allow a single disc to get past him.
"I think when you get so badly beaten and outplayed as we were last time you want to put them through the roof," said Minard. "The guys did a great job in front of me and tt was nice to get a feel for the puck after battling it so much last time."
It is apparent that when these teams meet to start the regular season October 3 the Leafs will be battling more than just the puck.