|The Leafs Clarke Clarke MacArthur hopes to celebrate again Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre against the Ottawa Senators. (Toronto Sun file photo)
TORONTO - It’s all about keeping the momentum going for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they face off against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night in the season’s first edition of the Battle of Ontario.
The Leafs are looking to build on their 3-2 victory over rival Montreal on Thursday night, the first time Toronto has opened the season with a victory at home since October 2000.
If the Leafs can pull off the win against the Senators, it will be the first time since the 1999-2000 season that they have started 2-0 at the Air Canada Centre.
While that in itself would be a huge improvement over last season when they started 0-7-1 and only won once in their opening 13 games, it would also be a bonus to grab of four important points from their division rivals.
“Well you can’t get the points back and that’s what we’ve talked about all along, we want to get out to a good start and this is the second game of our year but these points are huge,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said after the team's Saturday pre-game skate at the ACC. “We play these teams so much throughout the year that it’s good to get these points right now and, you know, we got behind the eight ball right off the start of the year last year so we need to get a way better start this year and hopefully start ahead of the game a little bit,” added young defenceman Luke Schenn.
Looking to thwart the Leafs are the Sens who are tyring to find some momentum of their own after dropping their season opener to the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Friday night.
The Senators could get a boost from the return of star forward Jason Spezza, who missed his team’s opening night loss with a groin injury. Spezza was one of the few Senators on the ice at the ACC on Saturday morning.
“I felt better today than I did yesterday,” Spezza said. “I'll see how I feel this afternoon and make a game-time decision.”