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Practice intensifies for Sens as playoffs close in

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Senators centre Jason Spezza expects a close game against Toronto tomorrow.

by Todd Anderson

The Ottawa Senators held another high-intensity practice today at Bell Sensplex in Ottawa in preparation for their match against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Place tomorrow.

Forward Antoine Vermette says the team has picked up the effort level now that the playoffs seem to be just around the corner.

"We know we have a bigger load ahead and we know how important these upcoming games are," Vermette said after practice today. "My dad used to say to me when I was younger that a good practice means a good game. I think it's the other way, too. If you have bad habits in practice, they get into games. It's important that you bring energy and focus every time you step on the ice."

Carrying a 4-1-0 season-series lead over the Maple Leafs into tomorrow's match, the Senators know the Leafs have been on a roll lately. Toronto has won three consecutive games and five of their last six.

"They're playing much better, and we're excited about playing them," forward Mike Fisher said. "This is a division game so you want to make a statement."

Centre Jason Spezza said battling against the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto - Ottawa faces the two rivals a combined six more times this season - will be exciting.

"Any time Canadian teams fight for the playoffs, it's exciting. It should be a pretty good game tomorrow."

Senators goaltender Ray Emery will start in goal against Toronto in search of his 23rd victory, which would match his career high set last season.

Kilrea reaches 2,000
Ottawa 67's head coach Brian Kilrea will coach his 2,000th career Ontario Hockey League game tonight against the Toronto St. Michael's Majors, a team owned by Senators and Scotiabank Place owner Eugene Melnyk.

Into his 30th season, Kilrea is the winningest coach in major junior hockey history.

The 67's and Majors will hold a rematch before the Senators-Leafs game at Scotiabank Place on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m. Click here to buy tickets.

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