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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, February 25th (All times eastern)

Toronto Maple Leafs (26-28-9) at Ottawa Senators (36-20-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Ottawa Senators will try to regain the top seed in the Eastern Conference tonight, when they welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs for a battle at Scotiabank Place.

Ottawa had been first in the conference since early October, but New Jersey took over the top spot with Sunday's win at Washington. The Devils lead the East with 79 points, but the Senators are just one point back and can reclaim the No. 1 seed with a victory tonight.

The Sens could also use a bigger cushion in the Northeast Division, as they are just three points ahead of Montreal coming into this evening's tilt. Toronto is last in the division with 61 points.

The Senators won for just the second time in their last six games this past Saturday, as they notched a thrilling victory in Pittsburgh. Daniel Alfredsson's goal with 3.2 seconds left in overtime lifted Ottawa to the 4-3 triumph at Mellon Arena.

Alfredsson gained control of the puck in the low slot after Andrej Meszaros dished off behind his back. The Sens captain fanned on his initial shot, a forehander, but took two more strides and lifted a backhander past Ty Conklin just inside the left post.

Ottawa's Dany Heatley scored twice to reach 30 goals for the season and Cory Stillman added a tally for the Senators, who overcame a three-goal deficit to win for the second time in the last three games.

The Penguins had led 3-0 midway through the second period, but Ottawa stormed back by scoring the final four goals of the game.

Sens goaltender Ray Emery got stronger as the game progressed, earning the win by making 32 saves.

The Senators are 19-11-3 as the host team this season, but have lost three of their last four tests on home ice.

Whatever happens to Toronto for the rest of the season will involve captain Mats Sundin, as the Leafs centerman announced that he will not waive his no- trade clause. That means the 37-year-old Sundin, who is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of this season, will not be dealt before Tuesday's trade deadline.

Sundin, who has been with the Leafs since the 1994-95 campaign, is first on the team with 25 goals and 37 assists this year. He is also Toronto's all-time leader in goals (413) and points (971).

The Maple Leafs may be in last place in the Northeast Division, but Toronto has given the rival Senators some trouble this season. The Leafs lost their first three games of the year against Ottawa, but have since won two straight in the Battle of Ontario.

Ottawa, however, has still taken four of seven and seven of the last 11 meetings overall. Toronto has also lost three straight, four of five and eight of its previous 10 games at Scotiabank Place.

The Leafs are coming off Saturday's win over the visiting Atlanta Thrashers. Alex Steen scored the game-winning goal early in the third period to help Toronto secure the 3-1 victory at Air Canada Centre.

Steen, who earlier on Saturday signed a two-year contract extension, added an assist on the evening. Nik Antropov also had a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs, who have won three of their last four games. Vesa Toskala made 24 saves in the win.

Tonight's test marks the first of four straight games on the road for the Maple Leafs, who have a dismal 10-16-4 record as the visiting team this season. Toronto, which will also make stops at Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington, has lost four of five and 10 of its last 12 road tests.

02/25 10:33:20 ET


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