The boys in blue and white travel to Ottawa this Saturday for an always-anticipated match-up between the Leafs and Senators. The Sens staked first claims on opening day at Air Canada Centre on October 3 in a heated 5-4 win. Now with the battlegrounds moved to Ottawa, these two adversaries prepare for Round Two.
The Senators who have dominated the Leafs in the regular season will be shooting for their seventh straight win against their Ontario counterpart. Looking to put an end to that streak, the Leafs will have to play with the same intensity seen against the Senators in last season's playoffs. Toronto swept the first round series shocking Ottawa out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
With Thursday night's win over Tampa Bay, Toronto now holds the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 26 points. Ottawa, who had a poor start to the season but has been undefeated in eight, is in sixth place with 22 points. Both teams have been hot in November, the Leafs recording a 4-1-1-1 record and the Senators marking 4-0-10, making the Corel Centre the place to be this weekend for hockey.
Patrick Lalime, who joined the Senators in 1999, will start in net for the Ottawa as Curtis Joseph suits up on the visiting end. With the commanding records of Lalime (2.38) and Joseph (2.27) the Battle of Ontario may ultimately be decided by a battle of the goaltenders.
Then again Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson, who lead their respective teams in points, may have something to say about that. Alfredsson chalked up his second hat trick of the season earlier this week in an 11-5 victory over Washington. Leaf defenders will need to keep him out of the slot Saturday night if they hope to win. As for the Leaf offence, the Swedish troika of Sundin, Hoglund and Renberg has been active all season and the game-winning goal by Alexander Mogilny in Thursday's triumph may be what he needs to get himself revved up again.