O'Neill finds a role

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

Strange what an injury to a teammate and a couple of games can do for a guy.

A few days ago, Jeff O'Neill was thought to be persona non grata with the Maple Leafs. Now, after Nik Antropov shocked the world and got hurt in the pre-season finale, O'Neill finds himself on what can be an effective line with Matt Stajan and Darcy Tucker.

"I like where my line is heading, and I like where I am going personally," O'Neill said. "We just need to continue to work hard and capitalize."

BATES CHECKS IN

So what if it was the sixth goal in a 6-0 win Thursday night -- Bates Battaglia was more than happy to find the back of an NHL net again.

"It matters to me," Battaglia said. "It's always nice to get that first one out of the way, especially with not playing in the NHL last year and having the lockout (the season before)."

Battaglia had 68 goals in 485 NHL games before this season, but got just four in 2003-04 with the Washington Capitals.

Battaglia scored 20 AHL goals last year playing under coach Paul Maurice, who also had Battaglia in Carolina. When told that Battaglia earlier yesterday credited Maurice for helping him get back on track last season, Maurice smiled and said: "He knows how to work a coach, clearly. He has learned the right answers."

THANK GOODNESS

Maurice said the relief that swept through the bench on Thursday when Chad Kilger scored the Leafs' first goal against Ottawa was palpable. Not surprising, given the lack of scoring in the opener when Mats Sundin got the Leafs' only goal on a penalty shot.

"I don't want to say they were too happy, but I could feel it on the bench," Maurice said. "I don't remember the goal because everyone was standing up. After that, the guys settled in."

SUNDIN INCHING CLOSER

With 497 career goals, Sundin is creeping up on membership in an exclusive club. Only 34 NHL players have scored 500 or more goals. Of Sundin's goals, 362 have been with the Leafs. Darryl Sittler has the most goals as a Leaf with 389, followed by Dave Keon with 365.


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