Sens give fans present

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:11 PM ET

Senators 8, Maple Leafs 2

'Tis the season for giving, and there was plenty of it at the Corel Centre last night.

Mostly, Ottawa gave it to Toronto.

But good.

It started when Jason Spezza was given an assist on Dany Heatley's goal for the Senators in another (8-2) raking of the Maple Leafs -- even though it came on a fourth rebound.

The rules say Spezza gets a helper on the play .... still, the point seemed like a bit of a present as so much time had elapsed since the Senators star centre had touched the puck until it crossed the line.

Then, that's the kind of game it was on a night the Buds can be thankful the NHL doesn't chart time of possession numbers like they do it football.

At one point, Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle had the disc on his stick in the corner when he decided to just leave it for Bryan Smolinski.

Not one to look a gift dog in the mouth, Smolinski slid a perfect, blind backhand pass to Mike Fisher in front, and Fisher put the final wrapping on the Senators' second goal with a neat move on Eddie Belfour.

A few minutes later, Leafs forward Clarke Wilm was giving Zdeno Chara the business in front of the visitor's bench when The Big Zee Tree became fed up with the irritation and hooked Wilm's stick out of his hands, sending it helicopter-like into the front row of the expensive seats. Nice souvenir under somebody's tree, that could be.

And finally, the ultimate gift was provided by the local heroes, as the Senators gave it to their archrivals once again. That qualifies as a favourite Christmas present for much of the populace in the nation's capital.

"There's a definite difference in the crowd and feel for the game when we play Toronto," said Heatley, whose celebration screams into the glass after his goal suggests he now officially gets the Senators-Leafs thing. "We want to beat them every time we play them."

That they did last night.

But good.

Punch Lines:

A "nagging shoulder injury" kept Tie Domi out of the Leafs lineup, which spared the fading tough guy from having to scratch up Brian McGrattan's knuckles with his nose again ... Following the morning skate, Wade Belak was asked if he expected do some enforcing with McGrattan later on in the day. "Well, probably, that's his job and (Chris) Neil's a player now," he said with a hint of sarcasm. "(McGrattan) will probably be looking for it on his first shift, but I don't want to get sucked into it, I'm in the lineup to play." Without missing a beat, Belak grinned and added: "Now, if Heatley wants to fight, I'll probably fight him." Alas, Belak declined an obvious invitation by McGrattan with Ottawa up by two late in the second, then speared Neil as retaliation for a hit on Ken Klee in the third. When Belak emerged from the box, he and Neil dropped the gloves for a scrap that saw the "player" rock the taller Leaf with a left to the beak ... Engaging in what was probably his first NHL fight was Brian Pothier, who put up a game effort but lost to Wilm.

Punch Lines II:

The late-game fight with Carlo Colaiacovo was the second of Spezza's NHL career. He also dropped the gloves with former Flyer turned Blackhawk Patrick Sharp during the famous team brawl in Philly a couple of years ago, and guys like Jason Botterill and Joni Pitkanen in the minors. "The one against Botterill was the best," said Spezza. "I actually stood in there for awhile." Asked what he thought of his buddy's tilt last night, Ray Emery just shrugged. "There was a fight going on in the stands at the same time," said Emery. "I was watching that one." ... After engaging in two shoot-outs with Ottawa to start the season, Toronto has fired blanks in 8-0 and 8-2 losses to the Senators. "They now have a love-eight relationship," Sportsnet's Ian Mendes said of the rivalry

Between Periods:

Belfour's habit is to go for a little skate into the corners of the rink closest to his net after he allows a goal. He should be seeing those particular Corel Centre ticket holders in his sleep for awhile ... Leafs coach Pat Quinn absolved his goalie of total blame. "Maybe the last three weren't very good," said Quinn, citing the Senators' domination in territorial play and 11 Ottawa power plays. "But what's a goaltender suppose to do? Play defence and do all the other stuff, too? I'm not so sure I'd want to play goalie for this team (last night)." ... Not nearly appreciated enough through the first two months of the season has been Kathy, the Senators' new in-crowd hostess. She should get some rookie-of-the-year votes ... When a contest prize is a Kenny G's holiday hits CD, what does the runner up get? A box set? ... Best line for Ottawa in the first period was the Peter Schaefer-Fisher-Neil unit. It provided some serious pressure that put Leafs on their heels ... Anyone else think Fisher has been Ottawa's most consistent all-round forward the past three weeks?

SOME THINGS WORTH NOTING...

AN EARLY ERUPTION: Didn't take long for Mt. Fergie (aka Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr.) to bubble over. Ferguson slammed his fist on a press box desk and screamed "(Bleep) me," when Toronto failed to take advantage of a poor Dominik Hasek puck clearing attempt and build on a 1-0 lead before the 10-minute mark of the first. Suppose he could have just been yelling at Darcy (Mother) Tucker.

RISING STAR: Rookie Andrej Meszaros is emerging as a bonafide regular whose play could allow the Senators to trade another defenceman should they have to fill a need at a later date.

BY THE NUMBERS: Daniel Alfredsson was the game's most frequent shooter, registering six on Belfour.

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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