Senators-Maple Leafs Preview
GAME: Ottawa Senators (21-10-5-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (23-8-8-3).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
Nobody has been able to slow down the Ottawa Senators for more than a month.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to do it without numerous regulars.
The surging Senators, unbeaten in 10 straight, will try to close the gap in
the Northeast Division when they take on the undermanned Maple Leafs in the
opener of a four-game road trip.
Ottawa has been the NHL's hottest team since the start of December, going
12-2-3 to climb within seven points of Toronto for first place in the
The Senators, 8-0-2 during their run, haven't gone 11 games without a loss
since a 9-0-2 run from Oct. 25-Nov. 20, 2001.
A 5-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday ended a stretch where Ottawa played
10 of 12 games at home.
"The first month and a half we didn't play well at home, and if you want to
be on top you've got to play well at home," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
said. "It was important for us when we had this stretch to make the most of
it. We pushed each other."
The line of Alfredsson, Peter Schaefer and Todd White combined for five
points Tuesday, giving the trio 12 goals and 15 assists during the 10-game
"I think all of us are playing better as a line," Alfredsson said. "We're
cycling the puck better and it's a line that complements each other."
Although Patrick Lalime is clearly Ottawa's No. 1 goaltender, the team
doesn't lose anything when Martin Prusek plays. Prusek made 27 saves Tuesday in
a surprise start after Lalime was sidelined by back spasms. Prusek has allowed
just 10 goals in winning seven of his last eight starts.
Ottawa should be an even stronger team Thursday when right wing Martin
Havlat returns from a two-game suspension.
Defenseman Bryan McCabe scored twice in the third period Tuesday, rallying
the Maple Leafs to a 2-1 victory over visiting Nashville.
It was the second straight win following a four-game winless streak for
Toronto, which played without starting goalie Ed Belfour and forwards Owen
Nolan, Alexander Mogilny and Robert Reichel.
Toronto's injury list will be even longer Thursday.
Besides Belfour, Nolan, Mogilny and Reichel, captain and leading scorer Mats
Sundin and defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Wade Belak will not play against
Sundin will serve a one-game suspension for throwing his stick into the
stands Tuesday. Kaberle injured his shoulder and is listed as day-to-day along
with Belak, who injured his knee.
"We have had guys step in and do the job because of injury," goalie Trevor
Kidd said. "We don't seem to miss a beat, and I'm stepping in for Eddie for