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Penalties Costly in Loss

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
September 24, 2006

HALIFAX (CP) -- Another game, another injured Leafs defenceman.

Brendan Bell left the dressing room on crutches Sunday night after Toronto's 3-2 NHL pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators in Halifax.

Jeff O'Neill had one of the Leafs goals on Sunday night.

He was taken to hospital for examination but there was no word on the severity of the injury.

"He took a slash,'' explained Toronto coach Paul Maurice.

"It's precautionary. We're going to see how he is tomorrow.''

With Tomas Kaberle (groin pull), Pavel Kubina (hip flexor), Carlo Colaiacovo (headaches) and Staffan Kronwall (sprained ankle) already injured, Maurice is having a difficult time grading some of his guys as he prepares to trim his roster to the mid-to-high 20s.

"The number we'll get to would be lower if we were completely healthy, but I think over the next few days we will sort things out,'' he said.

Chris Kelly, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza scored for the Sens, who improved their record to 3-2 in pre-season play.

Both Heatley and Spezza's goals came with the Senators enjoying two-man advantages in a penalty-filled third for the Leafs. Kelly's goal, in the second, was also on the power play.

Jeff O'Neil and John Pohl replied for the Leafs, who fell to 3-2 with the loss.

The Leafs went with a young lineup that included no regular blue-liners from last year's team and a heavy presence of rookies up front.

Alex Steen, Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky and O'Neill were the only regular forwards to play as Maurice continues to take a long look at some of those who played for him last season with the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

Maurice said he could have dressed a more veteran lineup, but felt like rewarding guys like John Mitchell, Brett Engelhardt, Colin Murphy and Jamie Sifers, who all had yet to play.

"This was a big, big deal for them and it was payment for the work they've done,'' he said.

"They've worked their butts off this summer. They've had great camps and I didn't want this to be an 11-day practice for them.''

Despite the fresh faces, the Leafs dominated the opening period, outshooting the Senators 19-6 and outscoring them 2-0.

"Preseason's funny,'' said Heatley. "A lot of guys are fighting for jobs and they definitely battled hard.

"We got dominated in the first. They played really well but we kind of got it together after the first, played a little simpler, played a little harder, and turned the tide a bit.''

The Senators were as dominant in the second as the Leafs were in the first.

They penned the Leafs in their end for much of the first half of the period but were unable to figure out goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin until Kelly's goal at the 17:29 mark.

Aubin made a number of good saves as he tries to outduel Mikael Tellqvist for the backup job to starter Andrew Raycroft.

In the second, he poke-checked the puck off Spezza's stick as the Senators centre was barrelling in on him on a breakaway.

Aubin went the distance, stopping 31 of 34 shots.

Ray Emery played the first two periods for the Senators, giving up both goals. Kelly Guard was perfect in the third.

The Senators were officially the home team, but were booed by the pro-Leaf crowd from the moment they skated on the ice.

Ottawa defenceman Wade Redden left the game in the second period and didn't return.

Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said Redden would probably be kept out of Monday's game against Montreal in Truro, N.S., as a precaution.

The game was a homecoming of sorts for three Leafs. Stajan and Bell were members of the Canadian team that won silver at the 2003 world junior championship in Halifax. Steen played for Sweden.

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