Senators lay goose egg

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

TORONTO -- Sixty-six games since their last one, the Senators laid an egg last night.

A big, old, ugly goose egg.

In a brutal performance before a season-high crowd of 19,596 at the Air Canada Centre, Ottawa was blanked 3-0 by the Maple Leafs.

The Senators managed just 22 on Vesa Toskala, who had a realatively easy night aside from late-game saves off Daniel Alfredsson and Andrej Meszaros.

Martin Gerber suffered just his second loss of the season while facing 18 Toronto shots.

It was the first road loss for the Senators, who had won their first five games away from Scotiabank Place this season.

BLANKED BY PREDS

The last time the Senators were blanked was last Dec. 14, when they fell 6-0 to the Predators in Nashville.

"(The Leafs) played hard and I don't think our team was real sharp offensivley," said Senators coach John Paddock. "Their power play was good.

"The first period is what cost us. We didn't establish any game at all. We didn't play well.

"You've got to play right all the time. You've got to play hard all the time. In the first period we didn't want to play the way we need to below the dots."

Penalties finally caught up to the Senators. Darcy Tucker scored the game's first goal, late in the second period, 53 seconds after Luke Richardson was called for holding.

Then, early into Period 3, Mats Sundin put a point shot through Gerber's legs 40 seconds following a hooking call on Wade Redden.

Rookie Jiri Tlusty finished the Senators off with a goal just over four minutes from the final buzzer.

Paddock defended Gerber.

"If you don't score any goals you're not going to win," Paddock said. "He'd probably like the Sundin goal back, but he's been solid all year."

After a scoreless first and little sign of life from his offence early in the second, coach Paddock did a little shuffling.

He put Dany Heatley with Mike Fisher and Randy Robitaille, while sliding Patrick Eaves out with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, with Chris Neil into Eaves' spot on the Chris Kelly-Antoine Vermette line.

The moves nearly paid some dividends.

Moments after an Alex Steen shot snuck past Gerber only to hit the crossbar, Fisher was stopped on an odd-man rush by Toskala, who then kept Heatley from poking in the rebound.

Both teams took a delay of game penalty in the opening period, with Meszaros getting nailed for putting the puck in the stands and then, a few minuts later, Andy Wozniewski found guilty of the same crime.

The Senators penalty killers showed they were on top of things from the start, preventing the Leafs a single shot on goal during that power play. Alfredsson had the Senators only real chance on their turn, firing a wrister from the slot that was stopped by Toskala.

The Senators are in Montreal to play the Habs on Larry Robinson number-retirement night tomorrow.

"We've got to bounce back. Everyone knows what the recipe is. We've just got to have a little more excitement," said Redden. "It seemed that game lulled us a bit.

"We have a couple big games coming up. We have to have more energy for those."


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