Leafs mean to end it

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

 There were no guarantees of victory emanating from the Maple Leafs dressing room yesterday.

 But the steadfast resolve and confidence the Leafs have in themselves heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final against the Ottawa Senators tonight was palpable following an optional practice at the Air Canada Centre.

  And that's considering they may have to finish off the Senators for the fourth time in four playoff meetings between the teams without captain Mats Sundin, who missed Game 5 with a left leg injury.

 "I would still say it is unlikely," coach Pat Quinn said when asked about Sundin's chances of playing tonight. "We are not going to disclose anything at this point. He is travelling with us and we will see what happens (today)."

 Whether Sundin plays or sits, the Leafs have no plans to leave the nation's capital tonight without administering the final blow to the Senators. The Toronto players are glad they have home ice for a possible Game 7 on Tuesday, but they have no wish to require its use.

 And don't think that the utterings of Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who said after Game 5 on Saturday that his club would be victorious in each of the next two games to win the series, are being used as inspiration for the Leafs. Nowhere were Alfredsson's quotes posted yesterday and some Leafs were unaware that Alfredsson had said anything.

 MOTIVATION

 "To me it is not a motivational thing," Leafs forward Tom Fitzgerald said. "It should be motivation enough to know this is the last game we need to take the series. That should be it for motivation, to be able to move onto the next round and move closer to what you set out to do at the beginning of the year.

 "There are no guarantees other than that you pay taxes."

 Said Brian Leetch: "It's his job to have confidence in his team, and his his teammates, and certainly instill that. It doesn't change anything that goes on in our locker-room."

 The Leafs in Game 5 performed as though they had stolen an old New Jersey Devils playbook. Toronto played a boring yet effective defensive game in which they took advantage of a couple of their rare scoring opportunities for a 2-0 win.

 Quinn wants to see the blueprint put into practice again tonight, but figured improvements can be made.

 And clear in Quinn's mind is a 3-2 series lead the Leafs had on the Devils in the 2001 Eastern Conference semi-final. Toronto wound up losing in seven games after failing to put the Devils away at the ACC in Game 6.

 "Our goal (this season) was to improve defensively and we did," said Quinn, who wants to see his club get more than the 16 shots it mustered in Game 5. "Now we have to be a little bit better once we get the puck back and keep it in safe spots to do more with it.

 "That's the fine line. I think it got us into trouble earlier, trying to do too much pretty stuff," Quinn said.

 In 10 post-season games in Ottawa, the Leafs are 6-4. And not that they need further incentive, but avoiding a Game 7 would let some hidden injuries heal.

 "We're in a good spot," Leetch said. "It's the goal (to eliminate the Senators tonight). You try to win each game and move on as fast as possible. I don't think our approach is going to change."


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