Leafs take a pounding

Toronto Maple Leafs' Darcy Tucker fights with Ottawa Senators' Patrick Eaves during the second...

Toronto Maple Leafs' Darcy Tucker fights with Ottawa Senators' Patrick Eaves during the second period at the ACC last night. (Toronto Sun/Mark O'Neill)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:11 PM ET

A problem with the software that controls the lights at the Air Canada Centre last night caused the game between the Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators to be delayed for several minutes.

When the lights came on, the Leafs stayed in the dark.

Thanks to a series of Leafs mistakes and a general low level of intensity from the home side, the Senators took over early, built a 5-0 lead and somehow managed to hang on for a 6-2 win.

The clubs meet again tomorrow night in Ottawa in the fourth installment in 2006-07 of the so-called Battle of Ontario. The Sens have won twice.

A couple of factors are troubling for the Leafs. Despite outshooting the Sens 39-32, they had little enthusiasm against a club they're supposed to hate. And suddenly, they have just two home wins in seven games at the ACC.

"We have to be more consistent with the work ethic and intensity," captain Mats Sundin said. "We knew it was going to be important to have a good start and we didn't. This week we have not had the intensity the way we did in the first week.

"If we are going to be a playoff team, we need to play good at home."

Sundin and Matt Stajan scored for the Leafs. Andrew Raycroft allowed goals to Mike Fisher, Andrej Meszaros, Patrick Eaves, Antoine Vermette and Dany Heatley on 21 shots in two periods before he was pulled to start the third. Chris Neil beat Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the sixth goal.

Miscues by the Leafs led directly to each of the Senators' goals. But a tightly wound Paul Maurice was not about to pick apart each gaffe afterward.

"There was only one mistake -- we did not compete as hard as we needed to," said the Leafs coach, who clearly was steamed with that fact. "We did not compete hard enough and in the manner we needed to compete in. We're still learning how hard you have to work every night."

Veterans and youngsters alike were to blame.

Tomas Kaberle was caught up ice on the Sens' first goal, leading to a two-on-one on Wade Belak; Ian White gave the puck away on another goal; Hal Gill left Eaves alone in front on one; Bryan McCabe barely checked Vermette on another.

The list was long and dirty. Maurice mixed the lines a bit and broke up Kaberle and McCabe at times, but little changed.

As usual when these clubs meet, not all went off without a hitch. Darcy Tucker backs down from no one, but his decision to start a fight with Eaves, a non-fighter, in the second period did not please Senators brass.

"It's a cowardly act," Sens general manager John Muckler said.

When asked if he was trying to provide a spark, Tucker said: "It's part of the game."

Nik Antropov, meanwhile, is hoping to return as early as Saturday in Montreal against the Canadiens.

The injury-prone forward hurt his right leg in the pre-season finale. Whether he will be able to keep up with his teammates, who are quicker under Maurice, will be intriguing to watch.


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