OTTAWA -- As they lined across from each other for the opening faceoff last night, Chris Neil got into Darcy Tucker's face and suggested they drop the gloves.
Of course, he wasn't alone.
On this night, there was no fight in any of the Maple Leafs.
"It doesn't make sense for me to fight a 220-pound guy," Tucker said after the Leafs' humiliating 7-2 loss to the rival Ottawa Senators last night at Scotiabank Place. "It just doesn't make sense. I'm going to get walloped and everyone will get a cheer out of it."
Still seething over Tucker's pummelling of Sens' mild-mannered forward Patrick Eaves in Ottawa's 6-2 win at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday, Senators' fans were just as happy watching their heroes beat up the Leafs on the scoreboard last night.
"Any time you lose two games the way we did it's a concern," said captainMats Sundin said, whose team was outscored 13-4 in back-to-back losses in the Battle of Ontario. "We recognize that.We have a lot of work to do.
"There is no doubt in my mind we have the talent to be a playoff team."
Talent, perhaps.But there is no way these Leafs have any chance to make the postseason if they give up so many quality scoring chances, especially against such a skilled team as the Sens.
"Sooner or later, they will capitalize," Sundin said.
Leading the way for the Sens was Dany Heatley, who scored three times in the second period to register his first hat trick of the season. Both Jason Spezza and Joe Corvo also had huge nights, each racking up a goal and four assists.
"When they get behind a few goals, it forces them to take some chances," Spezza said.
Corvo's five points were a single-game record for a Senators defenceman.
So much for the Leafs being at the same level as their provincial rivals.
Maybe Toronto's 6-0 victory over the Sens in the second game of the season fooled the Leafs organization and its fans into thinking they finally had Ottawa's number.
Instead, that win seems more like the exception than the rule.
The Leafs have now gone just 2-10 against the Sens since the lockout, many of them lopsided losses such as that last night.
"They're the reason we didn't make the playoffs last year," said Matt Stajan, knowing his Leafs went just 1-7 versus Ottawa last season. "We want to be sure that doesn't happen again."
Mike Fisher and Anton Vermette scored the other Ottawa goals.
Bates Battaglia and Jeff O'Neill replied for the Leafs
In dropping back to back games against the Sens, some ugly warts have very much been exposed concerning the Leafs' play.
Topping it off has been some brutal defensive zone play from a bunch of blueliners that committed more giveaways than Publishers Clearing House.
Perhaps most disappointing to coach Paul Maurice are the slow starts of veterans Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle, both of whom have not lived up to the whopping long-term contracts each signed in the past 10 months.
While not to be blamed for the defeat, goalie Andrew Raycroft's early-season bubble has burst. The Leafs have allowed 29 goals in their past six games, most of them with Raycroft between the pipes.
"I know tomorrow morning the sun will be somewhere, behind the clouds or in the sky," Raycroft said. "We've got 70 games (left). If we win the next 65, how great is that going to be?"
That's hardly realistic. A win against the MontrealCanadiens tomorrow night would suffice for now.