After being rebuffed in their first attempt to sweep a home-and-home from their archrivals, the Ottawa Senators get another chance to do so when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Place on Thursday night.
The Senators (4-4-0) opened the season with a 4-1 victory Oct. 4 at Toronto over the Maple Leafs (4-3-3)—who returned the favor with a 6-0 thrashing to spoil Ottawa’s home opener two nights later. The teams played a testy game Tuesday at Toronto, where the Senators scored three first-period goals en route to an easy 6-2 victory.
“It was a big effort tonight. Everybody contributed,” Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
After enforcers Brian McGrattan and Wade Belak had a second-period fight, veteran Maple Leafs right wing Darcy Tucker pummeled second-year pro Patrick Eaves, who also had a goal and an assist for his first “Gordie Howe hat trick.” Tucker’s choice of Eaves as a sparring partner, though, rankled some of the veteran Senators, who pointed out the 22-year-old had never fought in his brief NHL career.
“You definitely don’t like to see stuff like that happen,” said Senators right winger Chris Neil, who has a team-high 21 penalty minutes. “Patrick Eaves never fought a day in his life. He’s a guy who goes out, a happy-go-lucky guy who works hard.
“Tucker obviously did his homework in between periods and knows he doesn’t fight.”
Eaves seemed to want to move past the incident, saying, “It was just part of the play. It just kind of happened and it’s over and done with.”
“I didn’t really trip him on purpose, I’ve got to be honest. I was falling down and next thing I see, I just got a stick in my (groin),” said Schubert.
“I don’t know what made (Kilger) so upset to spear me. If I get a chance tomorrow to ask him, I’d want to know why he would do it, but it’s fine with me. I’m not hurt or anything, but it’s just interesting for me what’s sometimes going on in other guys’ heads.”
Senators coach Bryan Murray will continue his rotation of goaltenders, starting Ray Emery for this game. Emery, who made a relief appearance in place of Martin Gerber and allowed one goal in the third period of the 6-0 loss, is 2-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average in four games this season.
Ottawa has scored 14 goals in winning its last two games after being held to 11 while losing four of its first six.
Toronto is trying to avoid a season-high third straight defeat, and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin may be in line to start this game. Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice pulled Andrew Raycroft after he allowed five goals in 21 shots over the first two periods.
“We just didn’t compete hard enough,” Maurice said. “We didn’t compete in a manner that we need to.”
The Maple Leafs have recorded points in all three of their road games thus far (2-0-1).
Veteran center Mats Sundin scored one of Toronto’s two goals in Tuesday’s loss, and it was his first since a hat trick Oct. 14 gave him 500 for his career. He has nine goals and 26 points in 30 games at Ottawa, and 20 goals and 55 points in 58 games overall in his career versus the Senators.
Ottawa has won nine of the last 11 games between the teams dating back to last season, outscoring Toronto 49-28 in that span.