Telly's play has meaning

Maple Leafs goaltender Mikael Tellqvist played a solid game in a preseason win over the Senators at...

Maple Leafs goaltender Mikael Tellqvist played a solid game in a preseason win over the Senators at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006. (Ottawa Sun/Sean Kilpatrick)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

OTTAWA -- When Mikael Tellqvist most recently played in meaningful Maple Leafs games, he stunk.

Nearly six months after losing a pair of big matches against the Canadiens in Montreal, Tellqvist last night started to get back on track.

Battling Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the backup job to Andrew Raycroft, Tellqvist was solid in a 3-1 pre-season victory over the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place.

"I'm just trying to have as much fun as I can under these conditions," said Tellqvist, who made 33 saves.

"It's not fun when you don't know what is going to happen, but it's out of my control. I was just anxious to get back playing."

Tellqvist's best stop was on Mike Fisher, who had an open net in the second period. But Tellqvist, with the Leafs down 1-0, lunged to his left to make a magnificent glove save.

Despite an improved effort over what they put forth in a shutout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, not all was good for the Leafs. Pavel Kubina will know better today the extent of a strained hip flexor he suffered near the end of the first period. With Tomas Kaberle nursing a minor groin injury, the Leafs can't afford to lose another big-name defenceman.

"It doesn't feel good and I couldn't play," said Kubina, who walked gingerly out of the building.

Wade Belak was held out with a suspected hip injury.

Otherwise, coach Paul Maurice was pleased. The Leafs were sharp and, while Tellqvist was a big part of the story, others shone as well. Two of Maurice's former charges with the Carolina Hurricanes, Jeff O'Neill and Bates Battaglia, formed a line with John Pohl and had a strong performance.

O'Neill set up Battaglia, who is trying to earn a job, for the Leafs' first goal.

"Battaglia played the way I had it in my head," Maurice said. "He's big and he can skate, and we don't have a lot of guys there."

It was an important night for O'Neill, who was in the right frame of mind after being mentally lost last season.

"I told myself halfway through the second period that I felt like I was having fun again," O'Neill said. "I feel re-focused."

Michael Peca had two assists in his first game as a Leaf, setting up Brad Brown for the winner and later Andy Wozniewski. Peca also was instrumental in the Leafs' penalty-killing, which did not allow a Senators goal in five chances.

Each of three young defencemen who played -- Wozniewski, Brendan Bell (playing in his home town and named the third star) and Ian White -- did little wrong.

Now it's Aubin's turn to make an impact. He will start tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.

Both he and Tellqvist are on one-way contracts, and Maurice does not want to carry three goalies.

"Both guys are coming in on a positive note (in his mind), and they are not trying to redeem themselves," Maurice said. "I don't have a negative feeling for either one of them."


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