Maple Leafs look to walking wounded in Battle of Ontario

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:29 PM ET

 TORONTO -- The Leafs called in reinforcements last night for the Battle of Ontario.

 Injured defenceman Ken Klee (shoulder) and pesky winger Darcy Tucker (abdominal) returned to action in Game 2 and helped the Leafs even the Eastern Conference quarter-final series with the Senators at 1-1.

  The arrival of the pair put blueliner Aki Berg and Mikael Renberg into the press box, although coach Pat Quinn's final decision on who sat out wasn't made until after last night's warmup.

 "It's been a long five weeks," said Tucker. "I'm feeling good about playing and I'm only going to go out there if I can help the team win. The thing you want to do is put yourself at the risk of getting injured further.

 "Hopefully, I can an add an element of energy. I wouldn't go out there if I thought I was going to be hesitant. I've got to play my style and do the things that I'm capable of doing. I'm confident I can help the team have success."

 After getting beat 4-2 by the Senators in Game 1, some members of the Toronto media viewed the decision to play Klee and Tucker as a move of desperation by Quinn.

 But the Leafs coach was quick to point out dressing the pair wasn't an easy decision.

 "They've both been cleared to play," said Quinn. "We've had lots of discussions about what kind of risk they might be taking and, ultimately, the decision is left up to the player because some players want to get in there so badly they fib about their injuries and put themselves at risk.

 "They're both solid players. You establish rankings with players and these two rank pretty high and they're going to be ahead of the guys we take out. These are two guys who we feel can help our team."

 AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators coach Jacques Martin said -- again -- yesterday he expects C Jason Spezza to play in this series. "We're going to need him," said Martin. "As I've said before this is a coach's decision and I've never been one who has explained my decisions publicly." That hasn't stopped speculation in the Toronto media that Spezza and Martin can't coexist and the youngster might ask for a trade following the playoffs. Spezza, a healthy scratch in Game 1, sat his second straight game of the series last night and it's unknown if he'll suit up for Game 3 tomorrow at the Corel Centre ... Quinn was at his best during his morning press conference. He suggested the officials called Toronto for three penalties because of "dives" by Ottawa players. He also blamed the new one-piece composite sticks breaking too easily and suggested if Senators RW Marian Hossa used a stronger stick then D Bryan McCabe wouldn't have broken it with a slash in Game 1 of the series.

 THIS 'N' THAT: A group keeping a close eye on this series: Team Canada GM Jim Nill along with assistants Steve Tambellini and Don Maloney. They're getting ready to leave for the world championships in Prague next week and there's interest in players on both Toronto and Ottawa rosters. Canada has kept spots open for teams eliminated in the first round ... What's this we hear about New Jersey coach Pat Burns getting fired if the Devils don't make it out of the first round? By the way, Devils D Scott Stevens (post-concussion syndrome) may return for Game 3 vs. the Flyers.


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