OTTAWA - For the first time this season the Toronto Maple Leafs had forwards Mark Bell and Kyle Wellwood in their lineup Tuesday night. It didn't help.
The Leafs went into Scotiabank Place and got spanked pretty good by the Ottawa Senators, losing 5-1. They did outshoot the Senators 31-21, but early, frequent odd-man rushes allowed Ottawa to take control with two goals in the opening four minutes.
The Leafs, and Bell in particular, didn't leave without a fight though. Bell got into an altercation with Senators enforcer Chris Neil in the final minutes of the game and received his first 14 penalty minutes of the season with a double minor for roughing and a misconduct.
"(Neil) had a couple of chippy shifts late in the game and he hit Juri (Tlusty) then he hit me with an elbow, so I'm not going to stand for that," said Bell, who served the 15-game suspension imposed upon him by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stemming from a hit-and-run incident in September 2006 that he pled no contest to last July.
On his third shift of the game he laid a big hit along the boards to Senators forward Patrick Eaves. If he wasn't back before, he certainly was after that hit.
"The first shift we got the puck in and I had a good chance in front of the net so I felt I was back right away, actually," Bell said.
Wellwood underwent a second surgery for a sports hernia that hampered him last season, limiting him to just 48 games. Known as a bit of a power play specialist - 10 of his 23 career goals have come on the power play - his return was welcome since the Leafs had the 26th ranked power play entering the game. The fact that the Leafs had nine power plays meant Wellwood had a chance to get some extra ice time during his return.
He had over 17 minutes of ice time with more than seven of that coming on the power play.
"I felt pretty good. I felt a little slow but I'm sure with a few more games I'll be right in there," he said. "We definitely got caught standing still and they had a lot of extra speed than we did. As far as health wise I was happy, but I wouldn't say I'm happy with the way I played.
"They're a good team and it was nice to get a game under the belt but hopefully the next one will be a little better."
Bell had four hits during his 10:21 of ice time.
"As the game went on I felt pretty good and the more I played the more comfortable I felt," he said.
After a couple of days rest the two will see more action on Friday as the Leafs visit the Sabres in Buffalo.