He was the show. Eddie Belfour did just what he was hired to do, he single handedly shut down the Ottawa Senator attack on Saturday night. The Toronto Maple Leafs finding enough offence to get two goals on Patrick Lalime, which was more than enough on this night to put away a win on the score sheet.
As the game went on, watching Belfour gave the Senators at the Air Canada Centre and their fans across Canada a feeling that tonight just wasn’t going to be the night. Belfour turned aside all 31 shots put on his net in Game two. Giving the Sens fits with his ability to move from side to side stopping everything he saw and some that he never saw!
Belfour made stop after stop, point blank, bad angles, shots from anywhere at anytime. An amazing display and just what the Leafs needed to get themselves back into the Eastern quarterfinal. With Belfour leading the way the Leafs took advantage of too many bad penalties by the Sens (Hello there Zdeno), giving the Leafs far too much time in front of Patrick Lalime, making it only a matter of time before they put a couple of the 26 shots made, behind him.
Gary Roberts once again proved to be the nemesis of the Sens, scoring both goals in the game despite taking a pounding from a number of Senators. For Roberts it was a typical kind of game that he excels in, lots of hitting, fast action, muck it out in the corners and behind the net kind of action. All of which he’s known for, and Saturday night he managed to get free just enough times to put two goals in, sending the Leafs on to Ottawa tied at one game a piece.
Ottawa was frustrated in the Toronto end all night long, and while they had their chances nothing was getting by Eddie. Daniel Alfredsson with opportunity after opportunity to not only quiet the Toronto crowd, but get his team back into the game would be denied by Belfour in spectacular fashion. He would deny the Sens the chance to go up 2-0 in a series for the first time in their playoff history. The Leafs welcomed back into their lineup D’arcy Tucker and Ken Klee who both managed to make their presence felt, despite the lengthy amount of time on the sidelines prior to Saturday. The Leafs skated much better in this game number two, keeping up with the Sens who on Thursday had the Leafs chasing them for most of the night that did not happen on Saturday night.
For the Sens it’s back home to the Corel centre, but that’s not necessarily an advantage. The Leafs have had a pretty good run at things while visiting in Ottawa, finding that a good portion of the Ottawa crowd are in reality fans of the Leaf Nation. The Sens will want to jump on the Leafs fast on Monday, taking that part of the crowd out of the game giving their fans a chance to take over the rink. The history that faces the Sens after losing a game two is not good, Ottawa has only won 2 of 8 playoff series when they’ve lost game two. But that probably is just a meaningless stat for coach Jacques Martin who will no doubt turn his attention to getting them back on message, when they get home. If he can get them back into the style they played in Game 1, then Game 2 will be quickly forgotten.
Rather than worrying about any old series history, they need to worry about Eddie Belfour’s history and his chase for more of it. With his shut out tonight, Eddie moves into a tie for seventh over all in playoff shutouts. Dominik Hasek and Terry Sawchuck sharing the record book with Belfour, but with his current state of mind, the Sens had better be worried about not helping him move up the list over the next couple of games.