The Ottawa Senators spoiled a night honouring three former Toronto Maple Leaf greats to win the latest Battle of Ontario Wednesday during their season opener at the Air Canada Centre.
Patrick Eaves scored a goal and an assist and Dany Heatley added two helpers as the Senators defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.
Martin Gerber had a solid night between the pipes for the Senators. The Swiss goaltender made 33 saves, including several from close range to earn his first win for his new team.
Martin Gerber stops Kyle Wellwood during the first period of Wednesday night's contest between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
"You want to do well with your new team. Expectations are high.
I'm pretty happy we got that win," said Gerber.
The Senators signed Gerber in the off-season to a three-year, $11.1-million US free-agent deal in the hope of ending their search for a No. 1 goaltender.
"Martin gave us a chance to win the game, especially early on," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.
The Leafs, who honoured Hall of Famers Borje Salming, Red Kelly and the late Clarence (Hap) Day before the game, continued their struggles against the Senators in the regular season.
Toronto lost seven of eight games to the Senators last year and didn't fare any better Wednesday night with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his 10-year-old son Ben among the sold-out crowd of 19,520.
The Leafs defence looked especially sloppy, turning the puck over several times to allow Ottawa more scoring opportunities.
The Senators opened the scoring on the power play in the waning moments of the first period.
Toronto goaltender Andrew Raycroft stopped the initial shot by Tom Preissing, but couldn't handle the rebound off the stick of Eaves.
Ottawa went up 2-0 at 10:13 of the second when Chris Neil took a nifty pass from Dean McAmmond, raced into the slot and deked Raycroft with a backhand to the stick side.
The Senators increased their lead to 3-0 1:16 later after Christoph Schubert's shot at the side of the net trickled between the pads of Raycroft and barely slid beyond the goal-line.
"That was a weird one," said Raycroft. "It went off somebody and caught my back leg."
The Leafs finally scored their only goal of the game with less than eight minutes remaining in the second.
Captain Mats Sundin was awarded the first penalty shot of the NHL season when defenceman Anton Volchenkov dragged the Leaf centre from behind on the breakaway.
Sundin then managed to beat Gerber with a shot that eventually squeezed between the pads of the Senators netminder and into the open net.
"It's tough to lose the home opener, but I don't think it's as
bad as the scoresheet says," said Sundin.
Alfredsson then iced the game for Ottawa, scoring an empty-net goal with only 23 seconds remaining in the third.
Raycroft, acquired by the Leafs in an off-season trade with the Boston Bruins for fellow netminder Tuukka Rask, was the lone bright spot for Toronto.
Raycroft made 32 saves, including a splendid stop off Heatley during a third-period breakaway.With files from the Associated Press