OTTAWA — When Matt Carkner saw Colton Orr flash triple fingers to the Scotiabank crowd, he knew his Maple Leafs pugilist partner wasn’t signifying three wins for Toronto over the Senators in the Battle of Ontario.
Orr was trying to claim the victory in the third of four fights in as many games between them, though Carkner took exception to the signal as showboating.
“He was probably celebrating because he had three shifts in the game or something,” Carkner retorted.
Actually, Orr was a little more involved than usual in the game, seven minutes worth, with two Leafs teammates injured in the rock ’em-sock ’em affair, peppered with the Carkner fight that has been hyped here for a month.
“Heat of the moment, in a hard-fought game with all our fans here,” said Orr, the Leafs’ penalty-minute leader, of his three-digit salute. “There was a lot of emotion tonight. I enjoy hard games like this, no matter who it’s against.”
The new-breed Leafs, whose roster has been whittled down to the youngest in the NHL by the recent trades, seemed to ratchet up their intensity in the loud building, especially after John Mitchell and Fredrik Sjostrom were knocked out of the game.
Sjostrom’s Swedish pals in particular came at the flu-bugged Sens, with Rickard Wallin, Viktor Stalberg and defenceman Carl Gunnarsson also trading some hacks and whacks.
“It doesn’t matter what country you come from — this is the Battle of Ontario,” said Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn, who took on Shean Donovan. “Any time we play Ottawa or Montreal, it gets intense and we just seem to get up for those games. The fans love it.”
Centre Tyler Bozak, who assisted on Phil Kessel’s opening goal, was elated as well.
“It was a pretty exciting game,” the rookie said, “all the scrums, the fights, a low-scoring game, it was great for the fans, who were loud both ways. It was awesome.
“A lot of us are pretty tired right now. There were a lot of tough hits and guys were battling pretty hard out there.”
The Leafs are going to have little energy in the tank for Sunday’s game in Philly, their third in four nights.
“It’s a quick turnaround, but having said that, no one in the league is getting much rest with this schedule,” Schenn said.