Last Battle could hurt Sens' hopes

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

The Maple Leafs have lost the playoff war but still can win the last Battle Of Ontario.

The chance to put the Ottawa Senators on the playoff shelf right beside themselves lit up some faces in the Leafs dressing room yesterday.

"I would think the city of Ottawa would be similar to here (in terms of fan wrath) if they don't make it," said centre Matt Stajan, unable to hide a smile. "Hopefully we can do a job and knock them out."

An unthinkable outcome back in the autumn when the Sens won 15 of their first 17 games, collars now are very tight on a team that is tied with the Boston Bruins for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and two in front of the ninth-place Washington Capitals. A regulation Toronto win tonight, coupled with a Washington victory over last-place Tampa, would put Ottawa on the brink.

The Leafs are 4-2-1 against the Senators this season after losing the first three.

"There can be some weird stuff going on in this league," Leafs forward Kris Newbury said. "No one would have thought this possible until a few weeks ago, but it's very tight in the standings now. It would be good if we could spoil things for them."

Since the Leafs missed their own playoff boat by dropping both ends of a home-and-home series to Boston, which might not get in either, the Leafs are 1-0-1 in the wrecker's role.

After the Leafs conclude their home schedule tonight, they end the season Saturday in Montreal, a game that could decide first spot in the Eastern Conference for the Habs.

"It will be nice to have something to fire our guys up," coach Paul Maurice said of the next two games.

The Leafs still will be without three forwards for the final two games -- Mats Sundin (groin), Nik Antropov (knee) and Kyle Wellwood (groin).

"It's a good opportunity for our kids to show what they can do," Maurice said.


Videos

Photos