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NHL Game Summary - Ottawa at Toronto



(Saturday, January 31st)

Final Score: Toronto 5, Ottawa 1

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Gary Roberts scored two of Toronto's four power-play goals, as the Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators, 5-1, in a battle for Northeast Division supremacy at the Air Canada Centre.

Mats Sundin and Robert Reichel each had a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs, who remained atop the division and Eastern Conference with the victory. Toronto now has 69 points, one better than Philadelphia for the conference lead and three ahead of Ottawa in the division.

"Everyone knew what was on the line," Toronto goaltender Ed Belfour said.

Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the Maple Leafs, who avenged a 7-1 shellacking to Ottawa in the last meeting between the teams.

"We were embarrassed here at home and we didn't want that to happen again," explained defenseman Bryan McCabe.

The win helped Toronto head coach Pat Quinn become just the fourth bench boss in NHL history to reach 600 regular season victories. Quinn joined Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour and Dick Irvin.

Belfour made 24 saves to help Toronto win its fifth game in its last six contests.

Daniel Alfredsson scored for the Senators and Patrick Lalime made 20 saves, but Ottawa still lost for just the second time in six games.

Toronto, intent on making a statement in this contest, was flirting with danger after committing several early penalties. They killed off the first few power-play opportunities by the Senators, but eventually Ottawa made them pay. On a two-man advantage, Alfredsson opened the scoring with a rocket one-timer from the point. Alfredsson and Wade Redden worked the puck back-and-forth before Alfredsson's shot slipped inside the left post with 4:34 remaining in the stanza.

The Maple Leafs then tied the contest at 1-1 with exactly one minute to play in the opening period. Several Toronto shot attempts were denied by Lalime but Reichel, battling hard down low, swatted a rebound from his knees into the net to even the score.

Ottawa was the careless aggressor in the second period, finding themselves two-men down near the midway point. Sundin's 18th goal of the season gave the Maple Leafs the lead for good.

For the second time in as many periods the Maple Leafs would not be denied late in the stanza. Reichel had the puck above the right circle with just a second remaining in the period, and fired a low hard slap shot towards the net. Roberts re-directed the puck through Lalime's legs with just 1/10th of a second to play, giving the Maple Leafs a two-goal advantage heading into the final period.

Another power-play marker in the third period allowed the Maple Leafs to put the game away. Ottawa defenseman Karel Rachunek attempted to send a pass behind his own net with a pass off the back boards. But the puck caromed awkwardly off the dasher and bounced directly to Ponikarovsky in the slot. Ponikarovsky had no trouble sliding the puck past Lalime to make it 4-1 with 10:31 remaining.

With just 50 seconds left in the contest, Toronto struck once more. Roberts again scored on the power play to make it four straight unanswered goals for the Leafs to create the final margin.

"You look at the number of power-play goals they scored and that was the difference," said Ottawa coach Jacques Martin.

Game Notes

The Maple Leafs were scoreless in their last 26 power-play chances before exploding for the four goals. They finished the contest 4-for-7 with the man advantage...The last time Toronto scored four goals with the man advantage was on February 20, 2003 against Washington. Roberts also scored two in that contest as well.The two teams meet again on Thursday night in Ottawa...Belfour has allowed two goals or less in each of his last five starts...Ponikarovsky scored his fourth goal in his last five games...Owen Nolan returned to the lineup for Toronto after missing the past 12 games with an eye injury...Ottawa's Jason Spezza left the contest in the first period with a left leg contusion. He did not return...Ottawa set a franchise record with 14 power-play chances.

02/01 00:22:12 ET


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