So far, dragon winning

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:46 PM ET


 OTTAWA -- Slay the dragon.

 That's the playoff mantra of this year's Ottawa Senators, stitched on baseball hats that hang around their dressing room.

 Yet this curiously star-crossed amalgam of would-be champions is once again feeling their suit of armour melting.

 Slay the dragon means many things on different levels, starting with finally beating the Maple Leafs in a playoff series. Or going that extra mile that denied them a trip to last year's Cup final. Or overcoming their small town persecution complex.

 Those mental hurdles are all that tougher this morning after they threw everything but the Peace Tower clock at goaltender Ed Belfour and the Leafs last night and still came away trailing 2-1 in the series.

 "We're going to bounce back if we keep playing that way," declared Senators forward Mike Fisher. "We'll get some wins. We out-chanced them, out-shot them by a 2-1 margin and didn't get rewarded."

 Perhaps it wasn't the dragon that ruled the day for the Leafs, but those good-luck white third jerseys. With last night's win, Toronto is on a roll of 9-1-1 in the 1960s style sweater, allowing just 12 goals in those 11 games.

 LEAFS STRUGGLED EARLY

 The Leafs can only wear them on the road at this stage of playoffs because the home team must wear dark, but they won't argue. Against the Senators, Toronto has now won six of the past seven playoff meetings at the Corel Centre.

 It certainly didn't look good early on last night, with the Leafs unable to get over centre ice for the first three or four minutes.

 "That's the way it is in playoff hockey sometimes," said Leafs forward Joe Nieuwendyk, who scored the winning goal early in the second period. "One team throws everything at you and gets nothing for it. We found a way to hang in there and chip away."


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