Ottawa Senators Mike Fisher and Antoine Vermette (back right) congratulate Chris Neil (left) on his goal in the third period of NHL action in Toronto Tuesday. (CP/Adrian Wyld)
After managing a meagre 1.8 goals a game in losing four of their first six, the Senators throttled the New Jersey Devils 8-1 Saturday and toppled the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 Tuesday night. Mike Fisher, Andrej Meszaros, Patrick Eaves, Antoine Vermette, Dany Heatley and Chris Neil scored in Ottawa's latest win.
Matt Stajan and Mats Sundin replied for the Leafs.
The teams meet again Thursday night in Ottawa (7:30 p.m. ET) and Sens fans won't be blowing kisses at Darcy Tucker for beating up Eaves, who suffered a serious concussion in a college game four years ago and wears a visor. There might be more than boos headed Tucker's way.
Fisher finished off a 2-on-1 rush with Tom Preissing to open the scoring at 2:42. Tomas Kaberle had been caught up ice.
Meszaros connected with a blue-line blast through a screen at 14:47. The play developed after Ian White failed in an attempt to shoot the puck out of the Leafs' zone.
Eaves scored on a power play at 19:46. Dany Heatley sent the puck towards the crease where Eaves and Hal Gill were jousting. Eaves gained possession, whirled around and slid the puck past goaltender Andrew Raycroft. Ben Ondrus was off for roughing.
Vermette scored on another power play at 3:21 of the second period. Fisher sent a cross-ice pass that Vermette, being ineffectively checked by Bryan McCabe, reached for to redirect in. Tucker was off for roughing. He'd pushed Joe Corvo into the end boards from behind.
Ottawa entered the game last in the 30-team league in power play efficiency (5.4 per cent) with only two goals in 37 chances.
Heatley made it 5-0 four minutes later. Prancing around the front of the crease, he was treated by would-be Leafs checkers as if he had a contagious disease. Jason Spezza popped the puck out front from the side, and Heatley backhanded it past the beleaguered Raycroft.
Leafs fans in the announced crowd of 19,485 finally had something to cheer about when Stajan tapped a rebound into an open Ottawa net at 8:10. Goaltender Martin Gerber was out of position after flopping to the ice.
Tucker then pummelled Eaves, who didn't want to fight. Tucker insisted, and sent Eaves tumbling to the ice after repeatedly throwing fists at his head.
Every player on the Ottawa bench was standing out of concern for Eaves. Brian McGrattan, the cop on the Senators beat who had fought Wade Belak a couple of minutes earlier, stood in the penalty box to berate Tucker as he arrived. Tucker replied with a few choice words of his own.
On Tucker's next shift, Heatley knocked him down from behind and was sent off for roughing.
Leafs coach Paul Maurice replaced Raycroft, who'd allowed five goals on 21 shots, with Jean-Sebastien Aubin for the third period.
Sundin made it 5-2 early in the period with a shot wrist shot from near the boards beyond the top of the circle to Gerber's right that Gerber should have stopped.
Neil put Ottawa up 6-2 when he deflected in a long Meszaros shot.
Tucker was still on the Senators' minds, and Fisher took a roughing penalty for going after him with 11 minutes left.
The Leafs could do nothing with manpower advantages all night and finished 0-for-6. Ottawa was 2-for-5. The Senators' special teams superiority was a big factor in the outcome - that and their rediscovered knack for scoring goals.
Notes: C John Pohl lives in a waterfront condo with Krissy Wendell, who was captain of the U.S. women's hockey team at the Turin Olympics. She's playing for the Etobicoke Dolphins of the National Women's Hockey League. . . . Agent Carlos Sosa has wasted no time trying to capitalize on the fact Tucker leads Toronto in goals scored. Sosa breezed into town to talk contract with GM John Ferguson and was all over TV and radio extolling Tucker's virtues. Tucker is earning US$1.6 million this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent next July 1. A long-term deal worth at least US$2.5 million a year would be the goal. . . . The Leafs and Cineplex Entertainment announced that seven games scheduled for Leafs TV cable only also will be shown live at 25 theatres in the Toronto-Hamilton region as well as in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay, Niagara Falls, Barrie, Owen Sound, London, Waterloo, Brantford and Peterborough. First game on the big screen will be Toronto-Florida on Nov. 2. The adult ticket price will be $10.95 plus taxes. . . . F Jiri Tlusty, Toronto's first pick and 13th overall in the 2006 entry draft, has been sent to the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Tlusty began his season with the AHL's Toronto Marlies and had three goals and one assist. His first game with the Hounds might be Thursday in Peterborough.