Senators must match Roberts' intensity

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 5:33 PM ET

 TORONTO -- It is the theme of these playoffs for the Ottawa Senators, emblazoned in red on the old-school truckers' hats they wear around the dressing room.

 "Slay The Dragon."

  The dragon can be many things for this hockey club.

 Last night, the dragon had a face, the face of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Gary Roberts.

 Roberts is an old adversary for the Senators at this time of year, the embodiment of the kind of desire, intensity and ferocity which the Senators struggle to conjure up on a consistent basis.

 Remember three years ago when Roberts grabbed an injury-riddled Leafs lineup by the scruff of the neck and almost single-handedly beat the Senators?

 Roberts did it to them again last night, scoring both the Leafs' goals in their 2-0 victory at the Air Canada Centre, sending the Eastern Conference quarter-final back to Ottawa for Game 3 tomorrow night tied 1-1.

 Roberts might not breathe fire, but is there a player in this series in which the fire burns as intensely?

 He now has nine goals and six assists in 13 career playoff games against the Senators.

 Roberts was out there last night, as fearless as ever, taking and giving, running around the ice with that choppy, short stride, stick upraised in one hand as the Leafs turned the tables on the Senators.

 Led by Roberts, Tie Domi and Darcy Tucker, back in the lineup after missing Game 1, the Leafs were the more aggressive team last night, leaving the Senators to get themselves in penalty trouble.

 "We played Game 1 a little stiff, a little emotionless at times. Tie's line really gave us a spark (last night)," said Roberts. "It felt more like a playoff game.

 "But it's tough to be nasty when they're calling everything."

 Halfway through the first period Roberts gave the Leafs the lead after a pass by Senators forward Todd White from behind the net resulted in a turnover in the high slot.

 Roberts danced into the Ottawa zone, made a nice move to slip the puck around Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara and then snapped a shot past goaltender Patrick Lalime.

 Roberts was one of the principals in a meat grinder of a first period, a tough, punishing 20 minutes. Domi levelled Senators winger Marian Hossa with a huge hit six minutes into the game and Hossa wasn't much of a factor after that.

 Senators defenceman Brian Pothier blackened Tucker's right eye with a clothesline hit.

 VARADA ROCKED ROBERTS

 Senators winger Vaclav Varada, who would later incur the Leafs' wrath for what they thought was an attempt to get the knee of Leafs captain Mats Sundin, rocked Roberts with a hit.

 Roberts appeared to be hurt near the end of the first period when he collided at the Toronto blue line with Ottawa forward Mike Fisher.

 There was speculation he might have hurt a shoulder (both were surgically repaired two summers ago) or his wrist.

 He spent long minutes on the Leafs bench, head down.

 If he was hurt, it did not deter him.

 The Senators, who had been so disciplined in Game 1, handed the Leafs a power play less than two minutes into the second period and gift-wrapped a 5-on-3 three minutes later.

 First it was Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson penalized for a head shot on Toronto defenceman Bryan Marchment. Six seconds after that, Ottawa defenceman Zdeno Chara cross-checked Roberts off a faceoff.

 Roberts made it 2-0 in typical fashion, scoring in a way he has dozens of times before, fighting for space in front of the net, swatting home a rebound.

 "Any time you play a seven-game series, it's going to get competitive," said Roberts. "There's no doubt the most disciplined team is going to win this series."

 If the Senators are going to win this series, they have to find a way to match Roberts' intensity, find a way to nullify their nemesis.

 They need to breathe some more fire of their own.


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