Sens 'gut out' victory

Senators forward Jason Spezza moves the puck past Maple Leafs defenceman Andy Wozniewski during...

Senators forward Jason Spezza moves the puck past Maple Leafs defenceman Andy Wozniewski during third period action on Thursday night. (Sun Media/Blair Gable)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

They raised the Eastern Conference Champions banner to the roof and then Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson lowered the boom on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Alfredsson, the man Leaf fans love to hate, scored two goals last night -- including the winner on the power play with five minutes to go -- as the Senators won 3-2 and swept the Leafs in their home-and-home series openers in front of 19,857 mostly red-clad fans at Scotiabank Place.

There's an important characteristic already visible in this year's version of the Senators: For the second straight night, they found themselves in a tight third period, but showed they know how to close when the game is there for the taking.

"Not by design, but we're saving our best for last," said Senators coach John Paddock, who saw his team squander a 2-0 lead. "I like the way we battled and the way we gutted one out."

Dany Heatley scored the other goal last night and, after signing his big, six-year, $45-million contract Tuesday, had a photo opportunity before the game with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and the rest of the team brass.

Heatley might be getting the headlines, but Alfredsson is still the guy who is the heartbeat of this team. He ripped a wrister over the shoulder of Vesa Toskala -- making his regular-season debut for Toronto -- to help the Senators skate away with two points after another spotty effort.

"We know we didn't play great in the second, but we also knew we were in great position going into the third. We were strong in the third last year. We don't panic," said Alfredsson.

"(The confidence) comes from him, it comes from all the veteran guys in the room," said Heatley, who had given the Senators a 2-0 lead with his third of the season.

"There was a calmness in the room. We know what we're capable of. We had the confidence to get the job done. You saw that (Wednesday) night. We drew a couple of penalties and we found a way to get a goal."

Not many people are picking the Leafs to make the playoffs this year, but they showed in the first couple of games they won't be an easy two points on most nights.

The Leafs held the edge in play -- as they did through most of the season opener Wednesday night -- but Senators goaltender Martin Gerber was solid in the Ottawa net and the Leafs found themselves down 2-0 in the second. Heatley's goal required a video replay to show the puck just over the goal line.

But the Leafs stormed back to tie the game in the last five minutes of the second period as they turned up their determination to get to the net and it paid off for them.

Leafs captain Mats Sundin scored at 15:44 and tied former Toronto great Darryl Sittler for the Leafs all-time goal scoring lead with 389.

Just 32 seconds later, with the teams playing 4-on-4, Toronto's Matt Stajan tied it when he swooped in and poked home a loose puck.


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