Maple Leafs-Senators Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (24-20-3) at Ottawa Senators (32-10-4).
TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The annual battle of Ontario has become a one-sided affair.
The Ottawa Senators look for their sixth win in as many meetings with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season when the teams complete a two-game series at Scotiabank Place.
Ottawa has dominated Toronto this season, winning all five matchups by a 32-9 score - the last three by a 23-2 margin.
Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza - named the Pizza Line for a promotion in which home fans get a free slice of pizza when the team scores six goals in a win - have done most of the damage on offense, combining for 41 points in the five victories.
Alfredsson has seven goals and seven assists, Heatley seven goals and six assists, and Spezza four goals and nine assists against the Maple Leafs this season.
The trio combined for nine points on Saturday as Alfredsson scored 39 seconds into the contest and Dominik Hasek made 23 saves in Ottawa's 7-0 rout of Toronto before a record home crowd of 20,093.
"I don't know the answer to why we beat Toronto so easily," said Hasek, who has posted two of his four shutouts this season against the Maple Leafs. "It's probably because we are always ready for this team. It's a rivalry and we are always ready."
Alfredsson also pointed to the Leafs playing without leading scorer Bryan McCabe (groin) as well as Darcy Tucker (ribs) and Eric Lindros (wrist).
"Right now, I think we're playing a team that is struggling and lacking confidence big time and missing some guys," Alfredsson said.
The latest loss was Toronto's sixth in a row overall and had coach Pat Quinn looking for answers.
"They beat us in all areas," he said. "We have to keep talking about the things we need to do because obviously we're not doing them."
Ed Belfour gave up all seven goals on 41 shots Saturday en route to his fifth straight loss after a season-high six-game winning streak.
Belfour has allowed 21 goals during his losing streak for a 4.24 goals-against average.
"I've been through tough times before," he said. "It's going to happen in everyone's career. It's a long season and we have to stick together."
The Maple Leafs are mired in their longest losing streak since dropping seven in a row from Jan. 3-20, 1997.
"We just have to get better," Toronto defenseman Ken Klee said.
The Leafs have fallen to ninth place in the East, but are only one point back of the eighth-place Atlanta Thrashers and four behind the New Jersey Devils for sixth.
STANDINGS: Maple Leafs - 51 points, 3rd place, 17 PB, Northeast Division. Senators - 68 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Tucker, 18 goals; Tomas Kaberle, 32 assists; Jason Allison, 39 points and 59 PIM. Senators - Heatley, 31 goals; Spezza, 37 assists; Alfredsson, 65 points; Zdeno Chara, 104 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Maple Leafs - Power play: 19.9 percent (60 for 302), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (242 for 299), 20th. Senators - Power play: 21.0 percent (61 for 290), 3rd. Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (254 for 299), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (18-16-2, 0 SO, 3.35 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (6-4-1, 1, 2.57). Senators - Hasek (24-7-3, 4, 2.00); Ray Emery (8-3-1, 1, 3.07).
SEASON SERIES: Senators, 5-0.
LAST MEETING: Saturday; Senators, 7-0. At Ottawa, Hasek made 23 saves for his 67th career shutout and Chris Neil scored twice for the Senators.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 9-12-2 on the road; Senators - 18-4-1 at home.