Cujo can't rescue Leafs

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Even in a season going nowhere for both teams, Ron Wilson found a way to add some spice to the sputtering Battle of Ontario.

Not enough to avoid a 2-1 loss in front of 18,898 at Scotiabank Place, but enough to make the Ottawa Senators sweat out the win.

With his team trailing 2-1 late in the third period last night, the Maple Leafs coach invoked a rarely used tactic these days, calling for a stick measurement on Sens forward, Jason Spezza.

When the tip of the blade was found to be too thin and thus illegal, the Leafs were rewarded with a power play with 2:16 left.

"It was a stick that was not only illegal but dangerous," Wilson said of Spezza's twig.

Spezza admitted after the game that he shaves his stick.

"The guys had worked hard so I thought I'd give them a chance to win," Wilson said. "Unfortunately our power play stunk."

And fortunately for Spezza, who seemed miffed at Wilson's motives.

"Real dangerous I guess," Spezza said sarcastically of the stick Wilson said he has had his eye on all season. "At least the boys did a good job of killing the penalty for me."

Earlier in the day, Wilson had done his best to play down the Battle of Ontario by opting to start Curtis Joseph in net over former Senator, Martin Gerber.

Wilson didn't want to put the recently acquired netminder in the position to be skewered by the fans and media that had almost run him out of town earlier.

And with Joseph having had many memorable nights in the arena and his team playing again tonight, Wilson had even more ammunition for the move.

Cujo looked poised to add another solid outing, shutting out the Sens for the first 35-plus minutes. Perhaps fittingly, that bid ended by another former warhorse from the provincial rivalry, Sens Daniel Alfredsson, who beat Joseph high on the glove side to even the score at the 15:14 mark of the second.

"He has scored a lot of good goals on me, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't going where he wanted it to," Joseph said of the blast that beat him high glove side but with a puck that was rolling as it was struck.

Alfredsson's goal erased a Leafs lead that was gained 4:48 into the first on Ian White's ninth goal of the season.

With Brian Elliott playing sharp in their net, the Sens got all they would need on Dany Heatley's power-play goal with 47 seconds left in the second, another bouncer that Joseph had little chance on.

"Curtis played solid ... I thought we competed hard," Wilson said. "We had our chances. We have guys who should be scoring, who aren't."

As might be expected when you lose two of your top four scorers at the trade deadline -- as the Leafs did by shipping Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore -- the team is starting to struggle offensively. The Leafs have scored just four goals in three games since that pair were dealt.

"It is frustrating," said Jason Blake, the team leader with 51 points. "The positive is at least we are getting chances to score ... You have to go out and create opportunities."

Even if those opportunities come from a rare penalty call instigated by a coach not about to surrender, no matter how distant the playoffs get.


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