Sens, Leafs set for war?

Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil says he will do his talking on the ice, in response to being called an...

Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil says he will do his talking on the ice, in response to being called an idiot by the Toronto Maple Leafs' Wade Belak. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

The Battle of Ontario escalated into a war of words yesterday.

Leafs defenceman Wade Belak fired the biggest shot at his bitter provincial rivals when he labelled Senators wingers Chris Neil and Brian McGrattan "idiots."

Belak didn't hold back when asked by Rogers Sportsnet if the Leafs were worried Neil and McGrattan might be looking for some payback tonight at Scotiabank Place for Darcy Tucker beating up winger Patrick Eaves in Tuesday's 6-2 Ottawa win in Toronto.

"They're just idiots," said Belak. "We go through this every year. We've got more important things to worry about than those two idiots. I think we are just going to go out and play hard.

"Start with finishing our hits on them. I don't think we did a lot of that (Tuesday). I know they were trying to run around (Tuesday) night, so we are obviously going to have to do that."

Neil told the Sun last night he'll save his response for the ice.

"It should be an interesting game," said Neil. "I know if they want to do that (run around), we've got a lot more firepower than them."

Asked if he wanted to respond to being called an idiot, Neil said: "We'll see after the game."

The Senators swore the only place they'll be looking for payback against the Leafs is on the scoreboard. While fans are upset about Tucker's actions, the Senators chose their words carefully.

"You definitely don't like to see stuff like that happen. Patrick Eaves never fought a day in his life," said Neil. "He's a guy that goes out, he's a happy-go-lucky guy who works hard. I think Tucker probably did his homework between periods because he knows he doesn't fight."

Tuesday night, Senators GM John Muckler told the Sun it was a "cowardly act", but McGrattan believes it's just the way Tucker operates.

"That's not part of my game, going after a guy who has never fought before," said McGrattan. "That's just something I would never do. There's plenty of guys that do it. Tucker isn't the only one. It's part of the game."

Will the Senators grab a skilled player like Toronto's Alex Steen or Kyle Wellwood and give them a few shots to the head to send the message back to the Leafs?

"You can't put your team behind on the power play and give them the power play," said Neil. "That's what Tucker wants. That's where he gets all his points, on the power play. He just wants to go out and draw penalties. That's his job. He's done it his whole career."

Coach Bryan Murray wasn't pleased with what he saw in the second with the Senators leading 5-1.

"On another night, in another situation, look after it," he said. "(Tuesday), it didn't have to be anything other than just play the game.

"But if it comes to a situation where we have to have it looked after, I think we have that ability."

He made sure Neil, McGrattan and centre Mike Fisher didn't try to settle any scores against Tucker.

"I told the team: 'Get the game in control and just play.' Patrick Eaves is a big boy. If he loses a fight once in a while, that happens in hockey," said Murray.

"I'm sure it will happen the other way too. There's no need to be making it into a brawl situation."

So will it boil over tonight?

"I've been in so many situations, especially with the Flyers, where you thought the second half was going to be a war and both teams just played it," said Murray.

Eaves was embarrassed by all the media focus yesterday.

"I'd rather get attention for (the goal I scored)," he said. "I'm not much of a fighter. It's time to move on."


Videos

Photos