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Leafs Head To Senators Country

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (10-6-5-2) at Ottawa Senators (9-7-2-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

Ed Belfour looks to continue his strong play and lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a season-high fourth straight win in a Northeast division matchup with the struggling Ottawa Senators.

Belfour stopped 31 shots in a 3-1 win over Atlanta on Thursday, three days after passing Glenn Hall for fifth place on the career victory list with a 24-save effort in a 2-1 win over Vancouver.

The 38-year-old Belfour has 409 victories, 14 shy of Tony Esposito for fourth place. Patrick Roy is first with 551.

"He's one of the best goalies in the game," Toronto captain Mats Sundin said after Thursday's win. "It's great to have him back there. He certainly made it look easy tonight. That's just the kind of guy he is."

Belfour -- in his 16th NHL season and second with Toronto -- has bounced back nicely after allowing 14 goals in his previous four starts.

Owen Nolan has broken out during the last three games with three goals and an assist after scoring just four goals in his first 22 games.

"The last nine games, he's been one of our better guys and maybe hasn't gotten the recognition because we are all statistically oriented," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said.

Leafs centre Joe Nieuwendyk sat out for the 11th time in 12 games because of back spasms but might see action against the Senators, who lost for the fifth time in seven games Thursday with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Canucks.

Ottawa battled back from a 2-0 deficit and nearly won as defenceman Chris Phillips hit the crossbar with less than a minute left. However, the only goal the rest of the way came from Vancouver's Markus Naslund, who scored off a deflection with 46.2 seconds left in the extra period.

"It was a great hockey game," said goaltender Patrick Lalime, who made 24 saves. "Both teams were skating well and it could have gone either way. We showed a lot of character by coming back."

Lalime has struggled of late, allowing 11 goals in losing his last three starts after winning three of his previous four.

Mike Keane scored his second goal of the season for Ottawa after ending a 38-game goal-scoring drought in a 6-3 win over the Thrashers on Tuesday.

The Senators -- who held the Leafs to five total goals in five meetings last season -- have won only four of 14 games since a four-game winning streak from Oct. 17-25.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 27): Maple Leafs - 27 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northeast Division. Senators - 23 points, 3rd place (tied), 6 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Gary Roberts, 8 goals; Sundin, 13 assists and 20 points; Nolan, 60 PIM. Senators - Marian Hossa, 10 goals, 14 assists and 24 points; Chris Neil, 51 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 27): Maple Leafs - Power play: 14.9 percent (103 for 121), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (100 for 121), 22nd. Senators - Power play: 24.5 percent (80 for 106), 3rd. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (90 for 106), 9th.

GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (8-8-3, 1 SO, 2.57 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (2-0-2, 0, 2.51). Senators - Lalime (9-8-1, 1, 2.23); Martin Prusek (0-2-1, 0, 3.24).

2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Senators, 4-1-0.

LAST MEETING: April 5; Senators, 3-1. At Toronto, Prusek made 23 saves as the Senators closed the regular season with a franchise-record 52 wins and 113 points.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 6-4-4-1 on the road; Senators - 4-4-2-2 at home.

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