Maple Leafs-Senators: Toronto Solid En Route in 3-1 Win Over Rival Ottawa

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IJanuary 3, 2009

While I can boast all I want about how impressive the feat was of me personally flipping from two hockey games while trying not to miss anything important, the real feats were on the ice tonight.

First off, a huge congratulations to Team Canada on advancing to the Gold Medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championship.  Not only did they win the game, but they excited us all the way.  Kept us on the edge of our seats until the very end.

And when the day was done, facing adversity, they put it on the line, got out there and won this thing.  Enjoy it, boys.  Celebrate for now, but once you leave that room tonight, the celebration is over, and a whole new battle begins.

On the other hand, it was another installment of the Battle of Ontario, a game that seen it's share of chippiness, which was much needed to re-inject some of the bad blood into the rivalry, something that was somewhat lacking with the Maple Leafs going through such an overhaul.

And how about it, Leafs Nation?  

A team that was written off before the season started, the Maple Leafs are having an okay year, and are also ahead of their rivals Ottawa, in the standings, and in the head-to-head meetings.

Vesa Toskala got the call again, his first game action since Dec. 28, and while he did look shaky at times, he made several key saves en route to earning first star honours (courtesy of

Alexei Ponikarovsky put the Leafs up 2-1 on a goal that stood as the winner.  

Jason Blake added the insurance goal, while Dominic Moore got the Leafs on the board with the team's first goal near the midway point of the second period.

With the win, the Maple Leafs still sit in 11th in the East, but has stretched the distance between themselves and the 12th-place Senators.

The Florida Panthers, the team currently occupying 10th, sits just one point in front of Toronto, and has a date with the Maple Leafs this Tuesday, in a game that will see longtime Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe return to Toronto.

Despite a flop on New Years Day against the Sabres, the Maple Leafs rebounded nicely tonight and grabbed two very important points.

While the playoffs may still be considered a long shot, it is somewhat comforting to know that even in a rebuilding state, the Maple Leafs look closely around them in the standings and see Ottawa and Pittsburgh either below them, or in their sights.

Still, this is a long NHL season, and they play all 82 games for a reason.