Sens' Shadow Slows Sundin

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:20 PM ET

 When Mats Sundin sat down for dinner last night, no one would have been surprised if Ottawa Senators man-mountain Zdeno Chara suddenly appeared across the table.

 Chara has become Sundin's 6-foot-9 shadow early in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final, a trend the Maple Leafs captain can expect to continue as this edition of the Battle of Ontario unfolds.

  Wherever Sundin and his linemates went during the Leafs' lethargic 4-2 loss in Game 1 Thursday night, Chara and his defence partner, Chris Phillips, were sure to follow.

 The Sens' dynamic defensive duo did a magnificent job of suffocating the Sundin-Gary Roberts-Mikael Renberg line, which combined for just two shots in the defeat.

 Chara and Phillips were particularly effective against Sundin, who was held without a shot and never really gave Sens goaltender Patrick Lalime reason to fret.

 Even with the apparent advantage of having the last change, Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn either could not or would not shield Sundin from the Chara-Phillips combination, a matchup the Sens will take any day of the week.

 "When you play against a team's top player or line like Chris and I do, it's a special mission," Chara said yesterday in an understandably upbeat dressing room. "We take it as a challenge. You have to be sharp and ready every time you step on to the ice."

 Chara took some verbal and physical shots from Roberts but, in the end, dished out more punishment than he absorbed. Such is the game plan of Chara and Phillips, whose goal is to rattle the Leafs' big guns at every opportunity.

 "They are a very talented team," Phillips said. "It always raises your level of play when you are out there against the Sundins of the league."

 With one win under their belts, the Sens are seeking the killer instinct that has eluded them during past post-seasons.

 Two years ago, the Sens opened up their conference semi-final versus the Leafs by embarrassing the home side 5-0 at the Air Canada Centre.

 ELIMINATED

 Instead of burying the Leafs, however, Ottawa went on to drop four of the next six games and was eliminated.

 "We can't come back to the dressing room and say 'We should have done this or should have done that.' This is the time of year when you put it all on the line," captain Daniel Alfredsson said.


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