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The Globe and Mail

Struggling Sens take on Leafs in Hall of Fame game

The Toronto Maple Leafs may be atop the Northeast Division and the Ottawa Senators may be winless in their last five games, but you can probably expect a pretty spirited game Saturday night in Toronto.

For one, the Sens are coming off a 5-1 loss in Buffalo on Friday and are anxious to finally get things turned around.

For another, the Leafs have won a few games of late where they've been out played, including Thursday 3-2 shootout victory over St. Louis.

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Both teams talked at length on Saturday morning about wanting to be much better than they have. Add in the fact the Leafs and Sens are only six points apart in the standings and that this is the annual Hall of Fame game and there's plenty of intrigue in this one.

"The puck's not going in the net for us," Sens coach Paul MacLean said. "Our power play back when we won six games in a row was scoring us a goal or two a night and right now it's struggling a little bit. We're not as hard at the net and we're not getting as hard at the net as we need to."

"The other night, it was their forecheck," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of his team's struggles against the Blues. "We didn't respond very well. We had trouble clearing the zone in order to do what we do best. We're going to face that a lot until we solve the problem of easy clears and smart plays ... we've got to learn to do that.

"What we want to be is a very fast team at home and be entertaining enough that our fans get in and enjoy the show. And we win. That's what we're trying to establish nightly."

As for the Hall of Fame festivities, inductees Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour and Mark Howe will all be honoured before the game, which is two nights before they'll be officially inducted just up the street.

Several players said they were looking forward to seeing the pregame ceremony.

"Dougie was my hero growing up," said Sens centre Jason Spezza, who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area. "I was a big fan of him and the Leafs back then. Nice to be here for the Hall of Fame game ... It's a great honour for those guys. Makes it a little extra special to be a part of for sure. I'm sure [Gilmour] will get a pretty nice reception tonight and that'll get chills for everybody."

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Ottawa will start No. 1 Craig Anderson after pulling him after allowing two goals only 2:25 into Friday's loss. Leafs rookie Ben Scrivens gets his fourth career start after playing very well on Thursday.

Scrivens wasn't made available to the media before the game, as the organization is attempting to shelter him a bit from all the attention. His first start at home was last Saturday in a 7-0 loss to the Boston Bruins, a game he admitted he was a little nervous to play in.

"That was one game, I'm not going to worry about one game," Wilson said. "He's done the job in the two road games. He's figuring out for himself how he's got to prepare for the home game. It might be a little bit different.

"He's going to keep on improving."

Leafs lineup

Lupul - Bozak - Kessel MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Lombardi - Steckel - Frattin Brown - Dupuis - Crabb

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Gunnarsson - Phaneuf Liles - Komisarek Gardiner - Schenn


Sens lineup

Michalek - Spezza - Greening Foligno - Da Costa - Alfredsson Winchester - Konopka - Butler Kondra - Smith - Daugavins

Kuba - Karlsson Cowen - Gonchar Phillips - Lee


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