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Leafs snap Senators' streak at 11 with 5-0 win

by John Kreiser

Jean-Sebastien Giguere's scoreless streak ended Ottawa's franchise-record winning streak.

Giguere stopped 30 shots to become the first Toronto goaltender to record back-to-back shutouts in his first game as a Maple Leaf -- and brought Ottawa's 11-game winning streak to a crashing halt as the Leafs blanked Ottawa 5-0 on Saturday night.

Giguere, acquired from Anaheim on Sunday, followed up a 3-0 win over New Jersey on Tuesday by stifling the Senators. Fans throughout the Air Canada Centre celebrated with an unprompted, rarely-seen wave that lasted through an entire commercial break in the third period as the Leafs won for only the second time in nine games.

The win also erased the bitter taste of a 4-3 loss at New Jersey on Friday that saw the Leafs blow a 3-1 lead in the final 3:04, allowing the tying and winning goals in the final minute.

"I think since I've been here, everyone has been working really hard," Giguere said. "Everyone has been focused, whether it's in the games or in practice. Guys have been bearing down, doing the little things. Aside from the last two minutes of yesterday's game, I think we've played pretty good.

"I think we're building something. I don't know where it's going to bring us this year, but we're building something towards the future. That's where our focus is at right now."

The game started after a moment of silence in memory of Brendan Burke, son of Leafs GM Brian Burke, who died in a traffic accident on Friday. Giguere said the death of the 21-year-old was on the minds of everyone in the Leafs' locker room.

"I think our goal here is to make sure that Burkie and his family don't have to worry about us," Giguere said. "They have enough on their plate right now. It's hard enough as it is to lose somebody you love like this, and I can't even imagine a kid."

The Senators hadn't lost since a 6-1 whipping at Atlanta on Jan. 11, which also marked the last time they had allowed more than two goals in a game.

But the Senators stumbled from the start, taking five penalties in the first period that resulted in four Toronto power plays. Phil Kessel beat Brian Elliott on the second one to give the Leafs the lead just 4:44 into the game. Defenseman Luke Schenn blasted a shot past Elliott at 16:15 to make it 2-0, and rookie Tyler Bozak scored 28 seconds later for a 3-0 lead.

"We were focused in the dressing room before the game and we were ready to go," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We knew they were going to come out hard, and they did. They put a lot of pressure on us early and we just didn't respond to that."

However, unlike last Saturday, when they led 3-0 after one period against Vancouver only to lose 5-3, the Leafs kept Ottawa off the scoreboard and were able to add to their margin. Kessel skated around two defenders in the slot and scored again at 18:35 of the second period, and Schenn added his second of the night against Pascal Leclaire at 8:17 of the third.

Giguere did the rest, making 23 of his 30 saves in the first two periods and bailing out his new teammates when they struggled to clear the puck out of their own zone in the second period.

"It's a fresh start for me, a new opportunity," he said. "I don't think things were working really well for me in Anaheim any more. Sometimes when you get traded, it's an opportunity to see something new, to feel a new experience."

Leafs coach Ron Wilson, a longtime friend of Brian Burke, admired his team's focus.

"Having lost my dad and my mom when they were fairly young, I have a sense of what grief's all about," he said. "The way you go through this, you can't believe it until you get closer to the funeral. Then it hits you, then you're kind of numb. And then, after a few numb days, then it all comes piling on.

"So we're going to be really strong for Brian. I'm really proud of our team."

Giguere and his teammates ended center Jason Spezza's eight-game goal-scoring streak -- including six in a row after he returned from knee surgery -- and terminated Elliott's personal nine-game winning streak.

"We were playing so well, it's a shame we had to lose this way," Spezza said. "We were feeling good, we were working hard and everything was going great. This gives us a dose of humility."

Material from team and national media and wire services was used in this report

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