Leafs don't take kindly to Varada

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:16 PM ET

 Are the Ottawa Senators targeting Mats Sundin's knees again?

 The livid Maple Leafs say yes. The Senators simply laugh at the accusation. Either way, the bad blood is officially boiling in the Battle of Ontario, which moves to Ottawa for Games 3 and 4.

  Having claimed after a 5-1 victory over the Sens Jan. 31 that Daniel Alfredsson went after Sundin's knees, the Leafs echoed similar allegations last night.

 This time around, their wrath was aimed at Sens forward Vaclav Varada, whose lengthy run at the Leafs captain would have resulted in a dangerous collision had Sundin not stepped aside at the last second.

 The play, which occurred early in the third period of the Leafs' 2-0 victory last night, caused Sundin to deck Varada seconds later.

 Sundin downplayed the incident -- "I haven't seen the replay," he said -- but if Varada's actions were so innocent, why did the Leafs captain retaliate?

 Teammates Tie Domi and Gary Roberts were not as politically correct in their analysis of the play.

 "It's no surprise," Domi said. "(Varada's) been one of the dirtiest players to play this game since I've been in the league."

 "There is no doubt he tried to put (Sundin) out of the game," Roberts said. "It was nice to see Mats stick up for himself and take care of it."

 To no one's surprise, Varada pleaded innocent.

 "He just slipped when I went to hit him," Varada said. "He could not stop. I was just trying to finish my check. He had his head down.

 "It was a hard-hitting game. They finished their checks, we finished our checks."

 Sens pugilist Chris Neil, who tried to muck things up with several Leafs at the final horn, suggested Toronto has a number of players who play beneath the rules at times.

 "(The Varada incident) was no where near like (Bryan) McCabe going down to hit Peter Bondra near the end of the game. We know he and Bryan Marchment do things like that. Some are called, others aren't," Neil said.

 Expect the war of words to escalate from here on in.


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