Sens humbled by inspired Leafs

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Even when Mats Sundin says no to something, the Maple Leafs use it as inspiration.

Buoyed by their captain's refusal 24 hours earlier to waive his no-trade clause, the Leafs, in one of those games that might have been better served as an episode of the Twilight Zone, flexed some rare power-play muscle and beat the Ottawa Senators 5-0 last night before a mostly stunned capacity crowd of 19,861 at Scotiabank Place.

"I think especially the older guys who have been with Mats a long time (were lifted by his desire to stay)," said Darcy Tucker, who recorded the 23rd two-goal game of his NHL career in search of his first hat trick. "We know what it means to play here. All around, we played a good game."

Defenceman Hal Gill, rumoured to be on the trade block, was scratched even though he participated in the morning skate. Gill has the flu, but speculation surfaced that he was on the verge of being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Leafs maintained Gill did not play because he was sick, and a Pittsburgh source said it was nothing more than conjecture.

Matt Stajan tied a club record for most assists in a period when he helped out on three goals in the second period, while the Leafs scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time this season. Toronto has 63 points and moved into 12th place in the Eastern Conference, jumping past the Atlanta Thrashers and the Florida Panthers. The Leafs are six points behind the eighth-place Philadelphia Flyers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have 18 games left.

Sundin, Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore also scored for the Leafs. Vesa Toskala made 31 saves for his third shutout of the season, a zero that was preserved when Tomas Kaberle made a point-blank save on Mike Fisher with a minute to play.

CONFIDENT GROUP

"It feels so good to beat these guys and get one back on them," Stajan said. "When we are losing, everyone craps on us, but when we are winning, we're great. We're a confident group. There's no quit. With the exception of a couple of games (recently), we have been in every game."


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