Senators-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinals; tied 3-3.
TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EDT.
If Daniel Alfredsson was worried during Game 6 that his guarantee was about
to become a source of entertainment for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he didn't show
Alfredsson and his Ottawa Senators teammates look to carry that calm,
confident approach into Game 7 when the Ontario rivals meet for a berth in the
Eastern Conference semifinals.
Mike Fisher scored 1:47 into double overtime to give Ottawa a 2-1 win over
Toronto on Sunday night, sending the series back to Air Canada Centre - and
keeping Alfredsson's guarantee valid.
Following a 2-0 loss Friday which put Ottawa on the brink of elimination,
Alfredsson - the Senators captain - assured reporters that his club would win
Games 6 and 7.
"I don't think you've seen the last of us yet (in Toronto)," Alfredsson
said following a closed-door meeting. "We're going to go home, win, and force
Game 7. Then we'll come back in here and we'll win the series."
Ottawa fell behind 1-0 on Brian McCabe's power-play goal 4:14 into the first
period Sunday night, and the score stayed that way until Zdeno Chara scored at
4:55 of the third.
After Fisher ended it when he redirected Antoine Vermette's pass across the
crease into a wide-open left side of the net in the second extra period,
Alfredsson sounded like he never had a doubt.
"We've been playing some good hockey up until Game 5, which wasn't our best
effort," Alfredsson said. "We knew we could rebound well from that because
we've done it all year long. Tonight we got a great effort from everybody which
got us a chance to play in Game 7."
For the Senators to have a chance to win Game 7, they'll have to find a way
to keep generating enough offense against Ed Belfour. The Leafs' veteran goalie
stopped 44 shots Sunday and has recorded three shutouts in the series,
including one in Game 5.
The fiery Belfour wasn't dwelling on the defeat afterward, instead choosing
to focus on Tuesday's contest.
"We'd better take advantage of it," Belfour said of playing in front of
the home fans. "It means a lot to be at home with the crowd behind us. We have
to play a lot better."
Belfour held the Senators scoreless for 157 minutes, 45 seconds earlier in
the series while recording shutouts in Games 2 and 3. Chara's goal Sunday broke
another Belfour shutout streak of 116:55.
It won't matter how well Belfour plays, however, if Toronto can't score. The
Maple Leafs probably won't have one of their top offensive players yet again in
Game 7, as center and captain Mats Sundin is doubtful for Tuesday with a
"lower body injury." He has missed two straight games.
"He just tested it today. It wasn't even a good test. It was preliminary,"
Toronto coach Pat Quinn said Monday. "He'll play when he's ready, and I'm not
sure he's ready yet."
Sundin, who has a goal and three assists in four playoff games, said he will
decide whether he can play in Tuesday night's game after the morning skate.
Ottawa had lost its four previous playoff overtime games against the Maple
Leafs, but Alfredsson's bold prediction apparently gave his club confidence.
"Our captain said big things and that's something that brings you closer as
a team," Vermette said. "It's not just one player. Daniel played a great
game, and the guys wanted to play hard and come up with some character and
passion. That was one key tonight. We didn't give up."
The Senators will need more of that emotion as they try to overcome even
more daunting history as they look to reach the conference semifinals for the
third straight year. Ottawa lost in Game 7 to New Jersey last year in the East
finals, and is 0-3 all-time in Game 7s.
The Maple Leafs are 11-9 in Game 7s, including 6-1 at home. Toronto lost 6-1
at Philadelphia in the seventh game of its first-round series last year.
"We didn't think it was going to be easy, by any means," McCabe said. "We
worked hard. We came up on the short end, but we're confident and we're in a
great spot heading home for Game 7."
Vermette, who earned his first point of the series on Fisher's goal,
replaced center Jason Spezza, who was out of the Senators' lineup for the third
time in the series. Spezza, who also didn't dress for the first two games in
Toronto, failed to record a point in the three games he played.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Senators - 102 points; 5th seed. Maple Leafs - 103
points; 4th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Marian Hossa, 3 goals; Martin Havlat, 3
assists; Hossa, Havlat and Alfredsson, 3 points; Chris Phillips, 12 PIM. Maple
Leafs - Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, 3 goals; Sundin and Brian Leetch, 3
assists; Sundin and Gary Roberts, 4 points; Nik Antropov, 12 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Senators - Power play: 9.7 percent (3 for 31).
Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (22 for 26). Maple Leafs - Power play: 15.4
percent (4 for 26). Penalty killing: 90.3 percent (28 for 31).
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (3-3, 3 SO, 1.57 GAA); Trevor Kidd (no
appearances). Senators - Patrick Lalime (3-3, 1.59); Martin Prusek (no