Maple Leafs get upended

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The Maple Leafs vow they'll be a different team when the real shooting starts in the Battle of Ontario next week, but they're running out of time.

With the Toronto roster in a state of flux because of several nagging injuries messed up forward lines, the Senators already are on a war footing. They've spanked the Leafs twice in exhibition, including last night's 7-4 win at the Corel Centre, and have them in their sights twice in the regular season's first three games. Coach Byran Murray's Sens plan to use the eight-game regular season series as a focal point.

"Clearly, they've set themselves to try and defeat some bugaboos from the past," Leafs' coach Pat Quinn said of Ottawa's four consecutive playoff defeats by his team. "They've been very effective in the two games (outscoring the Leafs 12-6). Did they play a good lineup? Sure. Was ours maybe not the best? Doesn't matter, we need to compete a little bit better. We played the same way (as last Sunday); they beat us to pucks, we didn't do a whole lot of checking, our forwards weren't very responsible and our defence looked bad because of it.

"We have a lot of work to do, obviously, to look anything like a team."

Ottawa scored on its first two shots, 13 seconds apart in the first period, led 5-1 early in the second and only let up late in the third when the Leafs closed the gap to two.

"Good Lord, (the fans and media) should take a deep breath," forward Darcy Tucker said of the significance of the two games against the Sens. "We're not even out of September, we just played back-to-back and games and we're carrying (37) guys. Let's get ready for Oct. 5. We have nothing to prove in pre-season."

Quinn and general manager John Ferguson could make more cuts as early as today, but they're missing defencemen Aki Berg (ribs), Ken Klee (heel), Eric Lindros (lower-body muscle pull) and Jeff O'Neill (stiff neck). Jason Allison (hip flexor injury) was kept out of last night's game as a precaution, having just played his first game Saturday in the loss to the Canadiens."

"Guys playing now will be the guys who have to play (the final exhibitions this week against Buffalo and Detroit)," Quinn said.

The nine Ottawa goals have come against Leafs backup goalies, with Dominik Hasek debuting last night while Ed Belfour rested in favour of Mikael Tellqvist. Tellqvist became the first Leafs goalie to get a full game's work, but his unfortunate night might have left the door open for J-F Racine and the injured J-S Aubin to advance their causes as Belfour's backup.

"The poor guy was left alone most of the night," Quinn said of Tellqvist.

The good sign for the Leafs was a two-point night from diminutive forward Kyle Wellwood, giving him the club's pre-season lead with five. Winger Alex Steen also had his moments.

Once again, Ottawa iced a near-complete team, led by the line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and rookie sensation Brandon Bochenski.

The Minnesotan Bochenski, drafted 223rd in 2001, had three goals last night.

Brian McGrattan and Nathan Perrott squared off in one of three fights. Tucker, foiled by Hasek on a second-period penalty shot, took exception to a Mike Fisher hit and challenged him in the third.


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