Sticking it to Leafs

Wade Belak of the Toronto Maple Leafs dukes it out with Ottawa Senators heavyweight Brian McGrattan...

Wade Belak of the Toronto Maple Leafs dukes it out with Ottawa Senators heavyweight Brian McGrattan last night at the ACC. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

TORONTO -- The names may have changed in the Battle of Ontario ... but the intensity hasn't dulled one bit.

It was only a pre-season opener, but the Senators' 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs last night at the Air Canada Centre had plenty of the elements which make this provincial rivalry great.

Jason Spezza had three points, while rookie Brandon Bochenski and Dany Heatley each had two-point nights. Andrej Meszaros, Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher also scored for the Senators.

The Senators lost winger Vaclav Varada with a right knee injury in the second after he blocked a shot.

There were also 18 penalties as teams tried to adjust to the crackdown on obstruction and new rules.

"It was a start," said Spezza. "We're a team that likes to use our speed and the (crackdown) should help us. We just have to keep trying to get better. I thought our lines worked well together."

There was even a dash of humour as Alfredsson got a nice peck on the cheek from Fisher when the Kiss Cam panned the Ottawa bench.

Even the hardcore Leafs fans had to stop booing Alfredsson to let out a laugh as hockey returned in a warmup for the season-opener between Ottawa and Toronto here on Oct. 5. You can bet there will be no kissing that night.

"It was a good first game," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We've got of work to do because there were guys making mistakes with blind passes. We've got time here and we're going to keep building."

Tough guy Brian McGrattan, who led the AHL in penalty minutes last season with 565, made a big first impression with a classic tussle against Toronto defenceman Wade Belak just 4:50 into the first period.

McGrattan showed he knows the spirit of this rivalry by going toe-to-toe with Belak in what one scout maintained "could be the best fight you see this season."

"(Belak) asked me if I wanted to go and I said, 'Sure,' " said McGrattan. "You could feel the intensity. This is a great rivalry. I want to be part of it and it's only going to be better when the season opens. I'm trying to show that I want to be here."

Just when it looked like the Senators were going to go down without a fight, the club came battling back from a 2-0 deficit in the second period with goals from Alfredsson, Spezza and Bochenski.

Alfredsson gave his club the lead at 12:03 of the second on the first shot that J.S. Aubin faced after taking over for starter Mikael Tellqvist.

The Senators got off to a rough start in the game. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov opened the scoring, but neither goal could be blamed on Senators goalie Ray Emery.

Murray used Heatley and Alfredsson in the practice shootout, but neither scored. Eric Lindros and Mats Sundin scored for Toronto.


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