Skip to main content

Maple Leafs 5, Senators 1 @NHLdotcom

TORONTO (AP) - The Toronto Maple Leafs huddled around a television and watched as they were eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in eight years.

Mats Sundin scored and had an assist and the Maple Leafs did their part to keep their slim playoff hopes alive for at least a few minutes with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

But soon after the game, Tampa Bay beat Carolina 3-2 in overtime to eliminate the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs are 8-0-2 in their last 10 games.

Players watched in a side room to the locker room with owner Larry Tanenbaum and general manager John Ferguson Jr.

"It's heartbreaking to find out it's not going to happen," Darcy Tucker said. "You live to the play in the playoffs. Besides having children and a family there is nothing better in life than winning hockey games in the playoffs. It's like having your heart ripped out."

Sundin - Toronto's captain - said the late stretch of good play was no consolation.

"Even though we've been playing good there is no one else to blame but ourselves. We started playing like this too late," Sundin said.

Top defenseman Bryan McCabe said they blew it in January and February.

"The season is a failure. You only get so many opportunities to play for a Stanley Cup," said McCabe, whose team hasn't won the Cup since 1967.

Coach Pat Quinn missed the playoffs for the first time in his seven-year tenure.

"I'm real proud of them. They kept fighting," Quinn said. "But we are the makers of our own destiny."

Third-string goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin helped Toronto get back into contention - playing his first 10 games of the season after coming up from the minors. He had 30 saves against Ottawa.

Tomas Kaberle, Matt Stajan, Chad Kilger and Nik Antropov also scored for Toronto.

Dany Heatley scored his 49th goal for the Senators, who are battling Carolina for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

But Ottawa continues to struggle against rival Toronto when it matters most. The Senators won their previous seven games against the Maple Leafs this season, but Toronto has knocked them out of the playoffs four times in the previous five seasons.

"It seems like decades ago that we've played solid," said Ottawa coach Bryan Murray, whose team has lost five of six. "We're not moving the puck. We're trying to find a way to get our defense back."

Kaberle scored on Toronto' first shot of the game, a power-play goal at 1:01 of the first.

Toronto broke it open in the second with four goals.

Stajan scored his sixth goal in the past 10 games with a one-timer from the side of the net on the power-play at 5:44 of the second.

Kilger converted a Darcy Tucker's behind the net pass, giving Toronto a 3-0 lead at 16:32.

Just over a minute later, Sundin - alone at the side of the net - scored to make it 4-0 - his 12th goal in the last 10 games.

Antropov made it 5-0 1:10 later with a wrist shot from in from of the net.

Heatley scored from the side of the net, cutting it to 5-1 at 6:06 of the third.

Notes: Ottawa's Martin Havlat returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his right shoulder on Nov. 29. ... The Maple Leafs showed a video of their 7-0-2 stretch on the videoboard before the game. ... Tucker and Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson tussled in the third. ... Ottawa enforcer Chris Neil challenged Toronto enforcer Tie Domi to a fight late in the third, but Domi didn't drop the gloves. He got a 2-minute penalty for hooking and a 10-minute misconduct.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.