Toronto goalie has back-to-back shutouts

Updated: April 21, 2004, 2:39 PM ET
Associated Press

OTTAWA -- Daniel Alfredsson has a prediction for Game 4 of Ottawa's first-round playoff series against Toronto: The Senators will score on Ed Belfour.

So far that hasn't been easy. Belfour and the Leafs have recorded back-to-back 2-0 victories, allowing them to take a 2-1 series advantage heading into Wednesday's game.

"I don't think they'll keep us off the score sheet three games in a row," Alfredsson said.

It has been more than six periods -- 138 minutes, 21 seconds -- since the Senators scored on the Leafs, who have rallied from an opening-game loss in the best-of-seven series.

Last year, the Senators also struggled to score in the postseason.

In the Eastern Conference final against the New Jersey Devils, the Senators managed a goal in each of the first four games against Martin Brodeur and fell behind 3-1 in the series before losing in seven games.

"We know what happened in the Jersey series," said Ottawa right wing Marian Hossa, the last Senator to score on Belfour. "Right now, he's at the top of his game. We've been in that situation before.

"We just have to keep getting some traffic in front of him and keep shooting at his feet -- maybe get a lucky one off a skate. They don't have to be pretty."

Hossa took 10 shots in Game 3 and missed each time.

He and Peter Bondra were both given the day off from practice. Bondra might be feeling pressure to produce. He is pointless in the postseason after scoring just five times in 23 games since the Senators acquired the two-time 50-goal scorer from the Washington Capitals in February.

"Sometimes when you think about it too much, you're not going to help yourself," Bondra said.

Ottawa's situation is reminiscent of the 1999 and 2001 playoffs, when it was swept by the Buffalo Sabres and the Leafs, respectively, after being unable to solve Dominik Hasek and Curtis Joseph.

Right now, Belfour is stopping everything.

After posting back-to-back shutouts over the Sabres and Senators to close out the regular season, he has been unbeatable in four of his last five starts.

"They may be a little frustrated not being able to get one by Eddie," Leafs center Joe Nieuwendyk said. "It does become frustrating for a team and a shooter."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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