Provincial showdown beginning to boil over

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:22 PM ET

 TORONTO -- After a lukewarm start, the Battle of Ontario bubbled over last night.

 Tempers flared late in the third period over a questionable hit attempt by Senators winger Vaclav Varada, who the Maple Leafs say was going after captain Mats Sundin's knee. Varada got only a piece of Sundin before the two players scuffled.

  As the game ended a brawl broke out, but it was restricted to just one fight between Greg de Vries and Tom Fitzgerald.

 "I think (Varada) stuck his knee out," said Tie Domi, who set the tone early in the game with a devastating hit on Marian Hossa. "That's the way he's been his whole career.He's one of the dirtiest players that's played the game since I've been in it."

 Gary Roberts also thought Varada tried to injure Sundin.

 "It looked like a bit of a low hit," said Roberts. "There's no doubt he tried to put him out of the game.

 "But it was nice to see Mats take care of himself."

 Senators winger Chris Neil defended his teammate, and wondered how those who live in a glass house can throw stones like in that manner.

 "Varada is an energy player," said Neil. "He was trying to get a hit, get us in the game. Sundin went down a bit and he sort of went up ... but it wasn't like he was going for his knee, not like (Bryan) McCabe tried to do in the neutral zone on (Peter Bondra).

 "That was more going for the knee. Him and (Bryan) Marchment, that's the way they hit. Sometimes it's clean, sometimes it's not."

 Sundin, meanwhile, deferred his assessment of the hit.

 "Was he trying to hit me? Sure he was, I haven't even seen the replay," he said. "But that's playoff hockey. Tie hit Hossa coming around the net. It's a vulnerable position. I was just able to get out of the way."

 Domi caught Hossa cruising backwards with the puck in the Toronto zone. The Senators star was slow to get up and leave the ice, although he did not miss a shift.

 "Obviously you like to set the tone," said Domi. "When the hit is there, you've got to take it. He had his head down.

 "When you see their best player with his head down, you have to take advantage of it."


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