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game recap

Leafs Make It Two Straight Wins

Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:38 AM

The Canadian Press

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Leafs Make It Two Straight Wins
Ottawa Senators 1, Toronto Maple Leafs 5
TORONTO -- Fast, aggressive, confident.

It's the vision members of the Toronto Maple Leafs had for the team entering the season, but couldn't be sure existed until they started playing meaningful games. The early returns have been even better than expected.

Newcomers Kris Versteeg and Clarke MacArthur each had a goal and an assist Saturday as the Maple Leafs displayed a well-balanced attack in a dominant 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

``That's a great style of hockey for our team,'' said MacArthur. ``We didn't really give them a chance to even get anything going. We finished hits everywhere. That's what we want to do, we want to be rough and we want to slow guys down a lot finishing hits all nights.

``It wears teams out.''

With two wins over division rivals to start the season, the formula has worked perfectly. Toronto's second victory didn't come until its 14th game a year ago, which is one of the reasons a good start to this season was thought to be essential.

For coach Ron Wilson, there's no mystery behind the better start.

``They're better players - period,'' he said.

The Leafs took advantage of an Ottawa team that was playing for the second time in as many nights, having dropped its season-opener 2-1 to Buffalo on Friday night.

It won't get any easier as the Senators head to Washington for a tough game on Monday. Goals have been extremely difficult to come by so far this season and they'll be looking to turn things around quickly - only having to look to last year's Leafs team for a lesson in the dangers of a bad start.

``(It's) very disappointing,'' said Senators coach Cory Clouston. ``We thought we had a pretty positive pre-season, had a good week of practice. We've been out-worked, out-competed and out-executed in all areas right now.''

Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel and Tim Brent also scored for Toronto (2-0-0), while Jason Spezza replied for the Senators (0-2-0).

The Leafs are confident with the mix they've found early in the season. The top line of Versteeg, Kessel and Tyler Bozak has looked extremely dangerous; MacArthur, Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski have provided secondary scoring; and Brent, the third-line centre, has a goal in both games while playing between Fredrik Sjostrom and Colby Armstrong.

The fourth line of Colton Orr, Mike Brown and Mike Zigomanis has chipped in its own right - with the tough guy Orr fighting Matt Carkner in the third period while Brown and Zigomanis each helped the Leafs stay perfect on the penalty kill.

``I think it's just a collective effort,'' said Brent. ``We have a lot of fun together and I think it shows on the ice. Guys are willing to stick up for each other, everybody's so happy for each other when they have success. I think that kind of carries over to team success.

``We have lots of speed - speed seems to kill - and just hard work.''

Unlike the opening win against Montreal, the Leafs didn't lean very heavily on goaltender J.S. Giguere. He faced just 12 shots through the opening 40 minutes and only surrendered his shutout once the team had already built a 5-0 lead.

It was a thorough victory.

A turnover by Spezza led to Kulemin's goal at 1:38 of the first period. Versteeg then pressured defenceman Erik Karlsson into a giveaway before Kessel scored his second of the year at 7:51.

MacArthur's goal came with a well-placed wrist shot off the rush, making it 3-0 at 8:18 of the second period. It seemed there was little the Senators could do.

``Every line's got good speed I think,'' said MacArthur. ``If we get good transition, we can be deadly. There's a lot of good chances tonight - with Versteeg and Kessel and Bozak going, it's dangerous out there.

``If anything, it buys you a little bit more space because the (defencemen) are backing off - they don't want to get beat.''

The Leafs will enjoy a couple days off before heading out on the road with a visit to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. They were again preaching the importance of taking the win in stride, especially since Ottawa didn't seem to have its legs on the tail end of a back-to-back games.

But it was impossible not to note the optimism that was nowhere to be found a year ago.

``The enthusiasm's a lot better,'' said Wilson. ``We've got better balance to our team.''

Notes: Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar was minus-3 while logging a team-best 25:38 of ice time ... There were three fights in the third period ... Leafs defenceman Brett Lebda remains out with a shoulder injury and is hoping to make his debut with the team next week ... Ottawa's Ryan Shannon and Toronto's John Mitchell were healthy scratches ... The Leafs won four of six meetings between the teams a year ago ... Announced attendance was 19,157.
scoring summary
1st Period
01:38
TOR
Nikolai Kulemin (1) Snap shot - ASST: Clarke MacArthur (1)
1 - 0 TOR
07:51
TOR
Phil Kessel (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Kris Versteeg (1)
2 - 0 TOR
2nd Period
08:18
TOR
Clarke MacArthur (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Mikhail Grabovski (2), Mike Komisarek (2)
3 - 0 TOR
3rd Period
02:44
TOR
PPG - Kris Versteeg (1) Slapshot - ASST: Tomas Kaberle (1), Phil Kessel (1)
4 - 0 TOR
05:39
TOR
Tim Brent (2) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
5 - 0 TOR
07:11
OTT
Jason Spezza (1) Snap shot - ASST: Daniel Alfredsson (1), Sergei Gonchar (1)
5 - 1 TOR
penalty summary
1st Period
10:10
OTT
Erik Karlsson  Interference against  Mike Brown
18:54
OTT
Zack Smith  Interference against  Luke Schenn
2nd Period
04:13
OTT
Jason Spezza  Hooking against  Kris Versteeg
09:23
TOR
Colby Armstrong  Hi-sticking against  Matt Carkner
12:42
TOR
Tyler Bozak  Hooking against  Zack Smith
3rd Period
01:41
OTT
Chris Kelly  Holding the stick against  Colby Armstrong
02:18
OTT
Sergei Gonchar  Hooking against  Kris Versteeg
06:04
TOR
Mike Brown  Fighting (maj) against  Chris Neil
06:04
OTT
Chris Neil  Fighting (maj) against  Mike Brown
08:59
OTT
Matt Carkner  Fighting (maj) against  Colton Orr
08:59
TOR
Colton Orr  Fighting (maj) against  Matt Carkner
14:27
TOR
Tim Brent  Tripping against  Nick Foligno
15:49
OTT
Mike Fisher  Fighting (maj) against  Kris Versteeg
15:49
TOR
Kris Versteeg  Fighting (maj) against  Mike Fisher
18:38
TOR
Nikolai Kulemin  Slashing against  Erik Karlsson
18:38
TOR
Dion Phaneuf  Misconduct (10 min)
goalie stats
Pascal Leclaire
Pascal Leclaire
0-2-0
SA: 38TOI: 59:55
Saves: 33EV: 20 - 24
PIM: 0PP: 12 - 13
SV%: .868SH: 1 - 1
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
SA: 18TOI: 60:00
Saves: 17EV: 16 - 17
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .944SH: 0 - 0
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