Pat Quinn had a fancy-sounding name for the Maple Leafs' huddle formation in Game 3: An "ultra-defensive mental framework."
It looked more like a scene from The Alamo and it boiled down to the Maple Leafs getting hemmed in their zone like corralled cattle, then hanging on by the Eagle's tail feathers for dear life in a 2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.
It's not a tactic the Leafs coach would prefer they adopt again tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final in Ottawa, although an increasingly desperate Senators team likely will swarm goalie Ed Belfour again.
"They didn't miss much opportunity to pressure us and we didn't think much about attacking," Quinn said yesterday as the Leafs held a laid-back practice at the Corel Centre. "It seemed we were just happy to get it out of our end. Clearly, we have to be stronger as far as positioning goes (tonight) and see if we can get it out and force them to play a little defence."
If it's any consolation for the overworked Belfour, Quinn thinks the Sens get as tired of taking the play to the Leafs as Toronto gets of weathering the storm. That appeared to be the case in the second period of Game 3 as Joe Nieuwendyk scored.
But in the final period, the shots were 17-2 for Ottawa, and 98-60 overall in the series.
The Leafs have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven.
"Any way we can keep them off the scoreboard is a plus for us," Nieuwendyk said. "But we'll have to be better in a lot of areas and maybe take the attack to them. The key, much like in Game 2, is our forecheck."
Though the Sens have the clear advantage in shots, it must be said Belfour's defence was very adept at clearing rebounds and letting him see the perimeter shots. No doubt concerned the Sens will get more physical around Belfour tonight, Quinn claimed that Ottawa already had infringed on his star's space.
"It happened (in Game 3) off a couple of faceoff draws, they ran right into him," Quinn said. "Most teams I know do that if they're having trouble scoring. They had a lot of traffic and I believe they'll have a lot (tonight), which we'll have to handle differently.
"But traffic is different than (deliberately) bumping into somebody. Hopefully, that doesn't happen."
Almost all Leafs showed up for the optional skate yesterday, but none would echo the thoughts of many observers in Ottawa that the talented Sens are simply incapable of beating the Leafs in a playoff series.
"I don't think they feel they're on the ropes, but they must feel frustrated because they can't get one by Eddie," Nieuwendyk said.
Leafs need to attack: Quinn
LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun
, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET