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Belfour has shut out Ottawa for 138:21

4/13/2004

OTTAWA (AP) -- Ed Belfour has backstopped the Toronto Maple Leafs
back to home-ice advantage.

Belfour made 37 saves for his second straight shutout, leading
the Leafs to a 2-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators
on Monday night.

The Maple Leafs hold a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff
series. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Ottawa.

Belfour kept Toronto in the game in the first when Ottawa held a
13-4 advantage in shots, and shut the door on the Senators with 17
saves in the third as Ottawa outshot Toronto 37-17 overall.

"Fortunately, I had a good view of most of the shots in the
first and I just kept working hard, and it worked out," Belfour
said.

Joe Nieuwendyk scored his second goal of the playoffs early in
the second period. Mats Sundin added a goal on a two-on-one rush in
the third, scoring on one of only two shots by Toronto in the
period.

"We kind of weathered the storm early on, in big part thanks to
Eddie," Nieuwendyk said. "He made some incredible saves for us,
but that's sometimes what you get in playoff hockey, where one team
throws everything at you and gets nothing for it, and you find a way
to hang in there and chip away, and eventually we got the goals we
needed."

Belfour has held Ottawa scoreless for 138:21. He made 31 saves
for his first Toronto playoff shutout Saturday in a 2-0 win that
gave the Maple Leafs a split of their first two home games of the
series.

"I've seen it before with him," said Nieuwendyk, who won a
Stanley Cup with Belfour when they were with Dallas in 1999. "He really enjoys this time of year, and he's playing with a lot of focus. He prepares
himself better than any goalie I've ever played with, so it's a very
positive thing for our squad."

Belfour, who will be 39 on April 21, got his 84th career playoff
win to keep pace with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur for the lead
among active goalies.

It was his 13th career playoff shutout, moving him past Dominik Hasek into second place among active goalies behind Brodeur.

"With experience, you're bound to get better somehow, as long
you work hard at it, stay healthy and keep your focus," Belfour
said.

The Senators haven't scored since Marian Hossa got his second
goal of the game 1:39 into the third period of a 4-2 win in
Thursday's series opener in Toronto.

"He's a very good goalie, let's not kid ourselves, but we're a
very good team," Senators forward Bryan Smolinski said. "We've
got some scorers, and we're going to look at it and see where we can
make some adjustments. We're screening him, and he's [still] making some great saves.

"We've just got to keep pounding the puck to the net, I mean
one of them is going to go in, and once we get one, we're going to
get a bunch."

The laconic Belfour displayed rare wit when he was asked whether he
thought he was getting inside the Senators' heads.

"I don't worry about things like that, I focus on my own
game," Belfour said. "That's psychology."

Nieuwendyk, who scored the first goal of the series 3:15 into
Game 1, beat Ottawa goalie Patrick Lalime with a one-timer 1:30
into the second.

"It was a great shot -- what are you going to say?" Lalime
said.

Sundin missed a chance to put Toronto up by two goals 12:12 into
the second period when his shot off a scramble struck Senators
defenseman Zdeno Chara -- who was penalized for interference on the play -- squarely in the backside of his pants.

The sellout Corel Centre crowd of 18,500 waved white towels to
encourage the Senators. But it was the Maple Leafs who came alive,
and this time Sundin didn't squander his opportunity.

Breaking down the right side off the ensuing faceoff in the
Toronto zone, Sundin elected to shoot on a two-on-one and beat
Lalime with 5:44 left to silence the crowd.

"Mats always seems to come up with those big goals, and it was
sure appreciated," Belfour said.

Game notes
Actor Matthew Perry, an Ottawa native, attended the game
and was given a loud ovation when he was shown on the video
scoreboard. ... Senators C Jason Spezza returned to the lineup
after being a healthy scratch for the first two games in Toronto. C
Antoine Vermette sat out.