<
>

Senators beat Leafs to pad NHL's best record

4/6/2003

TORONTO (AP) -- The Ottawa Senators put the finishing touches on the best regular season in franchise history with a victory over the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.

Zdeno Chara, Todd White and Radek Bonk scored as the first-place
Senators beat the Maple Leafs 3-1 on Saturday night.

Backup goalie Martin Prusek made 23 saves for the Senators, who had already clinched the NHL's best regular-season record, becoming the first Canadian team in 14 years to win the Presidents' Trophy.

"I really like our club right now,'' Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We've secured home-ice throughout the playoffs. Now the exciting season starts.''

The bankrupt Senators set franchise records with 52 wins and 113
points. They'll face the New York Islanders in the first round of
the playoffs.

"Hopefully, we can take the next step,'' said White, whose team
has been eliminated in playoffs by the Maple Leafs the last three
years.

Matthew Stajan scored his first goal in his first game NHL game
for the Maple Leafs, who finished fifth in the Eastern Conference,
giving home-ice advantage to the fourth-place Philadelphia Flyers
in their first-round matchup.

The Senators rested Wade Redden, Martin Havlat, Mike Fisher and
Bryan Smolinski in the meaningless game.

The injury-depleted Maple Leafs were missing Mats Sundin, Travis Green, Doug Gilmour and Glen Wesley. Toronto rested Alexander Mogilny and Robert Reichel.

"There was a lot of joking going on out there. It wasn't much of a serious hockey game,'' Toronto's Tie Domi said.

Defenseman Phil Housley made his debut with the Maple Leafs. Housley came to the Maple Leafs in a trade-deadline deal with the
Chicago Blackhawks, but a broken foot prevented him from playing.

Gary Roberts returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with
a groin injury.

Stajan intercepted Ottawa defenseman Chris Philips' pass in front of the net and scored at 11:46 of the first period. The Maple Leafs signed Stajan to a three-year contract on Thursday.

"I'll cherish the puck for a long time,'' Stajan said. "I'll remember this game for the rest of my life. What can I say? I'm pretty lucky.''

White, standing at the side of the net, scored with a second remaining in the first after Jason Spezza's shot deflected off the boards.

Chara, standing in front of the net, redirected Vaclav Varada's
centering pass, giving Ottawa a 2-1 lead at 1:31 of the second. The
6-foot-9 defenseman finished with nine goals this season.

Bonk gave Ottawa a 3-1 lead with just over a minute left in the
third.

Game notes
The Senators are the first Canadian team to finish first
overall since the Calgary Flames in 1989. The Flames went on to win
the Stanley Cup. ... Sundin, the team leader with 37 goals, was hit
in the mouth by a puck on a clearing attempt Thursday night against
Minnesota. Sundin received 25 stitches inside his mouth and 25
outside. He's expected to back for Toronto's first playoff game.
... Toronto's Trevor Kidd made 27 saves.