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CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Senators 7 Maple Leafs 0

The Senators enjoyed a grand evening last night.

In the 1,000th game in franchise history, the Senators hammered the undermanned Toronto Maple Leafs 7-0 at Scotiabank Place in front of a record crowd of 20,093.

The win was the Senators' fifth straight against the Leafs so far this season against zero defeats, outscoring them 32-9 in the process, 23-2 in the last three.

For a while last night, it looked like poor Ed Belfour, the Leafs' beleaguered goaltender left defenceless by his David Copperfield-imitating teammates, would have a goals-against average of 1,000.

The Senators, who bumped the Leafs into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, were spurred by the presence of centre Jason Spezza, who put on a stick-handling and passing clinic. In his second game back after missing a month with a strained chest muscle, Spezza had a goal and two assists. He combined with linemates Daniel Alfredsson (28th and 29th goals and an assist) and Dany Heatley (31st goal and two assists) for nine points.

Senators centre Mike Fisher had a pair of goals and Peter Schaefer a single.

67TH SHUTOUT FOR HASEK

Dominik Hasek had his fourth shutout of the season and the 67th of his career, passing Patrick Roy and moving into 12th place on the all-time list.

"It's definitely fun playing the Leafs," said Spezza, the Mississauga native who grew up cheering for the Blue and White. "It's my home town. We have a lot of respect for them. That's why we get up for them. They're a measuring stick for us, always have been, always will be.

"But we're not in a position to gloat. We're still going to see them a lot."

The two clubs are barely on the same planet right now, never mind the same measuring stick.

The Leafs were passed by the Tampa Bay Lightning last night in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot as they lost their fifth game in a row, the first time that's happened under Leafs coach Pat Quinn.

"We had a game (against Phoenix, when they blew a 3-0 lead) we let get away and it seems to have done some severe psychological damage and we haven't been able to pull out of it," said Quinn. "Four games ago, we weren't crappy, but we're crappy right now."

"I'm concerned with the way we're playing. I don't look at the standings," said Leafs captain Mats Sundin. "If we keep playing like this, we're not going to make the playoffs. It's a simple as that.

"Every team goes through adversity in a season and we're there right now. We have to face the music, but I believe with all my heart we have a good enough team to make the playoffs. We have to start playing like it now."

The Leafs will have today to try and figure out how to hold the Senators to less than a converted touchdown. The two teams meet again tomorrow night here.

CHRIS.STEVENSON@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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