The annual battle of Ontario has become a one-sided affair.
Ottawa has dominated Toronto this season, winning all five matchups by a 32-9 score—the last three by a 23-2 margin.
Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza—named the Pizza Line for a promotion in which home fans get a free slice of pizza when the team scores six goals in a win—have done most of the damage on offense, combining for 41 points in the five victories.
Alfredsson has seven goals and seven assists, Heatley seven goals and six assists, and Spezza four goals and nine assists against the Maple Leafs this season.
The trio combined for nine points on Saturday as Alfredsson scored 39 seconds into the contest and Dominik Hasek made 23 saves in Ottawa’s 7-0 rout of Toronto before a record home crowd of 20,093.
“I don’t know the answer to why we beat Toronto so easily,” said Hasek, who has posted two of his four shutouts this season against the Maple Leafs. “It’s probably because we are always ready for this team. It’s a rivalry and we are always ready.”
“Right now, I think we’re playing a team that is struggling and lacking confidence big time and missing some guys,” Alfredsson said.
The latest loss was Toronto’s sixth in a row overall and had coach Pat Quinn looking for answers.
“They beat us in all areas,” he said. “We have to keep talking about the things we need to do because obviously we’re not doing them.”
Ed Belfour gave up all seven goals on 41 shots Saturday en route to his fifth straight loss after a season-high six-game winning streak.
Belfour has allowed 21 goals during his losing streak for a 4.24 goals-against average.
“I’ve been through tough times before,” he said. “It’s going to happen in everyone’s career. It’s a long season and we have to stick together.”
The Maple Leafs are mired in their longest losing streak since dropping seven in a row from Jan. 3-20, 1997.
“We just have to get better,” Toronto defenseman Ken Klee said.