TORONTO -- Maple Leafs 2, Senators 0
The chant started up around the midway mark of the third period at the Air Canada Centre. Never before have so many been so right.
The Senators sucked big-time in Game 5 of what now looks to be another lost series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There's no nicer way to put it.
How bad were they? Eddie Belfour had 21 shots hit him while registering his third shutout of the playoffs, yet he wasn't even named one of the game's three stars.
Oh, don't misunderstand. He didn't deserve the recognition.
The Senators had four good scoring chances worth mentioning. On three of them, Belfour didn't even have to make a save.
Marian Hossa had the puck knocked off his stick when caught by Ken Klee on a second- period breakaway. Vaclav Varada fumbled the puck into the corner on a breakaway of his own in the third. And Zdeno Chara whiffed from about six feet out after a setup by Martin Havlat in the third.
(Six feet is a rough estimate, the particular number probably coming to mind because, after that effort, we're pretty certain the Senators are all but buried).
Belfour did make a good skate save off a Daniel Alfredsson point blast in the last minute, but by then, well, by then the Senators were already dead.
Alfredsson, who boldly predicted the Senators would finally score before Game 4 then ensured his words rang true, was asked after yesterday's morning skate if he had any more guarantees.
"I guarantee I'll have a good meal right now," he said before joining his teammates for lunch.
Perhaps they should have skipped it.
Then maybe they would have come out with a little hunger on for the biggest game of their season.
STARTS AND STOPS: The Senators couldn't do a lot of things, but most of all they couldn't bail out Bryan Smolinski. Poor "Smoke Screen." He can't win. He's the goat when he doesn't come back hard and he's the goat when he does ... The Leafs had two shots on goal in the first period. They only had four in the second period. Ottawa wound up outshooting them 21-16 and now has a 155-100 edge in that department on the series. "It's a pattern we've established through lots of years, we're not a big shooting team," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said earlier in the day. "They've earned the disparity in shots. That's a team that will put it on your net, and put it on your net from everywhere." Especially from the perimeter last night ... Aside from a few decent hits (thank you Bryan McCabe, Bryan Marchment, Chris Neil), the first period was quite dull. Much better to look at was the two stunning blondes sitting a along the glass, a couple of seats over from Leaf backup Trevor Kidd. As it turns out, they were huge Joe Nieuwendyk fans, and one of them even bent over to prove it ... The lone power play in the opening 20 minutes belonged to the Senators. Hard to remember the last time they did so little with a man advantage opportunity. It was absolutely awful.
BETWEEN PERIODS: During a stop in play, the Leafs paid tribute to Bobby Baun, introducing him live to the crowd after showing that great clip of Baun scoring that playoff overtime goal on a broken leg 40 years ago. They just don't make them like they used to, eh Mats ... If one of the Senators was going to beat Belfour last night, you'd figure it would have been Martin Havlat. Entering the evening, Havlat had scored in the Senators' last three (and four of the last five) Game 5s .... After yesterday's skate, coach Jacques Martin praised Havlat to the press more than ever before, specifically commending the winger on his all-around game the past six weeks. Informed of this later, Havlat smiled and shook his head. "He tells you guys," said No. 9. "He doesn't tell me." ... Ottawa's second power play of the game wasn't any better than the first, although it at least produced one shot (by Greg de Vries) on goal ... That balance problem of Tie Domi's that Alfredsson wondered about a couple of years ago showed itself again when the Leafs bulldog went face first into the end boards after a little shove from Jason Spezza. Fortunately for the Senators, the Toronto power play wasn't much better than theirs on this night ... Not everything is more expensive in Toronto. The 'Senators Suck' T-shirts on sale outside the ACC last were going for $10, or five bucks less than similar anti-Leafs wear in Ottawa.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: A theory being discussed in the arena corridors among NHL types last night was that Czechs are less interested than they should be about winning in the playoffs, as losing means they'll get a chance to play for the world championships in Prague in the next couple of weeks ... Belfour and Senators defenceman Chris Phillips appeared to exchange a word or two as the teams were leaving the ice at the end of the second period. But, like an Ottawa power play, nothing came out of it ... Legendary Toronto sportswriter Jim Hunt was at the 1951 playoff final game in which Bill Barilko scored his famous Cup-clinching goal. "If only I'd known," said Shaky, now a spry 78, "I woulda paid more attention." ... Up for sale in Toronto's Bridlepath area is Alex Mogilny's house. The asking price -- $7.95 million.
ICE CHIPS: Only one Senator stayed behind in the dressing room to face the music when the doors opened and about 70 media types poured in following the game. It was Phillips .... Soon thereafter, Todd White appeared. Then Alfredsson. Other than that, the players preferred to shower and change than answer for themselves when they knew what most reporters would be asking. Go figure ... You are Matt Stajan. You're 20 years old and you still live in the basement of your parents' house. What were your buddies doing while you suddenly found yourself playing in the Battle of Ontario? Probably watching on TV in another basement, seeing how many beers they could squash in the process ... Robert Reichel was the game's first star. FYI, he's a fourth line centre (usually) who last night saw 15:22 of ice time, had one shot on goal and was 7-10 in the faceoff circles. And no Senator was close to being his equal ... But then, they weren't as good as the Maple Leaf enforcer playing with an alleged broken hand, either.
Toronto fans get it right
DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun
, Last Updated: 1:57 PM ET
TORONTO -- Maple Leafs 2, Senators 0