Domi hits back at Sens' Bondra

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:29 PM ET


 Tie Domi has a message for Peter Bondra: Get over it.

 A day after the Ottawa Senators forward said Domi was "going after my head" with a bodycheck in the regular-season finale on Saturday, the Maple Leafs enforcer responded.

 KEEP HEAD UP

 "It's a contact sport," Domi calmly told The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger. "You've got to keep your head up. It was a clean hit."

 Bondra left the game with a sore back thanks to the check but expects to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre. Seconds after Domi crunched Bondra, the Senators' Bryan Smolinski elbowed Domi. Had the Leafs not scored on the ensuing rush, a penalty would have been assessed to Smolinski. Domi said Smolinski's elbow was a cheap shot but also that it was part of the game.

 "End of story," Domi said. "God forbid if I had done that. Did I cry that it should have been a penalty? No. Did I cry that it should have been a suspension? No. Did I lie on the ice like I was dead? No."

 The issue was not a dead one in the Ottawa dressing room yesterday, but it appeared some wires had been crossed. Although Leafs such as Mats Sundin and Joe Nieuwendyk were being asked about a comment from Ottawa tough guy Chris Neil, who allegedly said "the way to get back was to go after skilled guys such as Sundin and Alex Mogilny," it's not what Neil said.

 "We've got to respond to that by finishing checks against guys like Mats Sundin, Gary Roberts and their skill players," Neil actually said. "It's part of the game."

 Whatever unfolds as the curtain lifts on the fourth act of the Battle of Ontario tomorrow night, it's a safe bet it won't involve undisciplined retribution. Leafs such as Nieuwendyk and Sundin sloughed off the idea that shenanigans might occur. Certainly, the Leafs have little choice but to be on their best behaviour. The Senators converted 80 of 371 power plays during the regular season for a 21.5% clip that led the NHL.

 "Words sometimes get said but when the puck drops for the playoffs, and so much is on the line, you think of your team first before anything," Nieuwendyk said. "I don't think it's an issue."

 Anyone who has watched the Leafs and Senators play one period against each other in three of the past four playoffs knows the series will be relentlessly physical. But the bigger picture is paramount.

 "I know myself and my team are worried about trying to win that first game," Sundin said. "We have nothing else to put our energy at other than that. I think it's way too important for us, at this time of year, to worry about anyone else."


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