Leafs ride dynamic duo

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:16 PM ET

 Remember when Gary Roberts was a central catalyst for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs two years ago?

 He is doing it again, and this time with help from Ed Belfour, who put on a wondrous performance last night.

  Roberts scored both Maple Leafs goals and Belfour stopped 31 shots as Toronto won another skirmish in the Battle of Ontario, blanking the Ottawa Senators 2-0 at the Air Canada Centre to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final 1-1. Game 3 is tomorrow night in Ottawa, where the Leafs won all three regular season games in 2003-04.

 Belfour, who had a career-high 10 shutouts in the regular season, made a couple of monster saves on Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson while the Leafs were short-handed in the third, for his first post-season shutout with Toronto.

 "Eddie has been the difference since he has been here for us," Roberts said. "He's a character guy and I don't know anybody who prepares like he does. He showed it again and hopefully he can continue to do it for us."

 Two nights after playing as though their skate blades were mired in an inch of sand, the Leafs took control early. In a match more highly charged than Game 1, the home side forechecked effectively, saw its forwards support the defencemen and, in turn, moved the puck through the neutral zone with more ease.

 Toronto had five shots in the first couple of minutes after getting four in the entire first period in Game 1. An early Tie Domi crunching of Marian Hossa was integral, as well.

 The Leafs are one of the most physical teams in the NHL and getting Darcy Tucker and Ken Klee back from injuries last night was huge. Tucker took the place of Mikael Renberg on the top line with Mats Sundin and Roberts, and threw his 5-foot-10, 178-pound body around with the kind of force he has shown in the past. Not only did Tucker light a fire under the whole team, more specifically, he kicked Roberts and Sundin in the pants.

 Sundin suddenly didn't have much of a problem with large Zdeno Chara, but was not on the ice as much with Chara as he was in Game 1. Sundin had two assists and simply did his job the way a captain should in the playoffs. At one point in the third, he chucked Vaclav Varada to the ice like a rag doll after Varada took a long run at him.

 Coach Pat Quinn felt that his top line was smarter than it was 48 hours earlier.

 "You think sometimes you play with lots of energy, but not much thinking. That was a problem for that line the other night," Quinn said. "There was not much thought about positions. Sometimes a little more positional discipline gets better results."

 Roberts' winning goal was a great illustration of the Leafs' willingness to move their feet. Sundin intercepted a pass in the Toronto zone, skated through centre and passed to Roberts, who blew by Alfredsson and past Chara to score.

 There is little doubt the intensity is back where it must be for the Leafs to be effective. But can they sustain it?

 "I think we can (sustain it)," Quinn said. " We have before."

 "If the hit is there, you have to take it," Roberts said. "If it's not, you can't go looking for it or you end up going out of position."

 TURNING POINT

 The key play in Game 2:

 - With the Leafs up 1-0, Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara were called for penalties six seconds apart early in the second period. Gary Roberts scored his second goal of the game on the ensuing two-man advantage, providing Toronto with a much-needed two-goal cushion.


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