Leaf 'backs' it up

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

 Daniel Alfredsson makes bold predictions.

 Joe Nieuwendyk wins Stanley Cups.

  So, when Nieuwendyk was informed that the Ottawa captain last night guaranteed the Senators would take the next two games to capture the Battle of Ontario, Whitby Joe wasted little time in responding.

 "He has been making a lot of guarantees," said Nieuwendyk, who is attempting to become the first player in NHL history to win Cups with four different teams.

 "They can make those predictions but I think we are a pretty confident group having won this game. It is a lot better feeling going into their building up 3-2 than down 3-2."

 As for Nieuwendyk's teammates, it is a lot better feeling knowing the veteran centre is back in action after dealing with back problems.

 Nieuwendyk flew back to Toronto from Ottawa Wednesday afternoon to receive treatment on his sore back, causing him to miss the Leafs' 4-1 loss to the Senators in Game 4 later that evening.

 With his status still up in the air for Game 5, Nieuwendyk offered reporters an indication that he was ready yesterday morning by giving them a wink and the thumbs up.

 Sure enough, he returned to the lineup last night and scored the insurance goal in a 2-0 Toronto victory.

 "It felt better getting out of bed, no doubt about it," he said.

 Nieuwendyk suggested he may have aggravated the back while scoring the winning goal in the Leafs' 2-0 victory in Game 3 last Monday.

 "It may have had something to do with it," he said. "I think I might have torqued something on that (play). You deal with it and move on."

 While on the subject of team leaders with fragile backs, Ed Belfour seems to be carrying the Leafs on his. Belfour became only the 12th goaltender in NHL history to record three shutouts in one playoff series.

 "Our team defence definitely was there tonight," said Belfour, who has blanked the opposition in five of his past seven games. "We'll take it any way we can get it.

 "I'm just taking it one game at a time. The guys really are letting me see the shots."


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