OTTAWA (AP) -Although the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs are both struggling, their rivalry is still strong.
Mike Fisher scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal in the second period, to lead the Senators to a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
``A lot of hard hits and fights. It was a physical game, back and forth and some good battles out there,' said Fisher, who beat Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala with a high shot with 5:50 left in the second period.
The Senators have dominated the season series in recent years, improving to 20-9-3 against the Maple Leafs since 2005-06 - including an 11-3-2 mark at home. Six of the last eight meetings have been decided by one goal.
``Obviously, it was still the Battle of Ontario,' Toronto center Matt Stajan said.
There were three fights in the opening 20 minutes. Ottawa's Jesse Winchester and Toronto's Jeff Finger got things started early, dropping the gloves less than 3 minutes in. Senators defenseman Matt Carkner and Leafs winger Colton Orr squared off midway through the period, with Orr catching Carkner with a punch that dropped the big blue-liner. About a minute later, Ottawa's Chris Neil went at it with Toronto's Luke Schenn.
``It was a fairly exciting hockey game,' Toronto defenseman Ian White said. ``A couple of fights, a close game a a lot of aggression and guys battling. It was good.'
Milan Michalek also scored for the Senators (9-6-3), who earned their first win in three games. Alex Kovalev, Alexandre Picard and Chris Campoli added two assists each.
Pascal Leclaire stopped 30 shots, including 15 in the third period when the Maple Leafs pressed for the tying goal.
``It's tough. We're definitely working hard and getting chances, but, at the end of the day, we've got to find a way to score one more than the other team,' Stajan said.
Phil Kessel and Niklas Hagman scored for the Leafs (3-11-5), who lost their fourth straight. Kessel extended his point-scoring streak to six games, during which he has five goals and three assists.
Rookie defenseman Carl Gunnarsson picked up an assist on Kessel's goal for his first NHL point. Toskala, still looking for his first win of the season, made 18 saves and fell to 0-4-2.
Fisher pounced on a loose puck in the slot and slipped a shot past Toskala to make it 1-0 at 8:08 of the first. It was the 17th time in 19 games that the Leafs have given up the opening goal.
However, the Leafs tied it 62 seconds later when Kessel crossed the Senators' blueline and wristed a shot past Leclaire.
Hagman put the Leafs into the lead when he beat a screened Leclaire less than 5 minutes into the second, but the Senators responded when Michalek scored on a deflection with at 11:03 with Hagman in the penalty box for hooking.
Fisher got the tiebreaking goal a little more than three minutes later. Toronto pressed in the third, but Leclaire and the Senators held on.
``We liked our first 50 minutes of the game,' Ottawa coach Cory Clouston said. ``We played our last 10 not to lose. You can't have success like that, but we got the two points. We needed (Leclaire) and he was at his best.'
Leclaire was at his best in the third when made a great save to reach his stick back and steer the puck out of the crease after a fluke bounce almost got past him. He survived another close call when Leafs forward Lee Stempniak struck the post with a shot from in close.
NOTES: Carkner leads the NHL in fighting majors with nine. Orr has seven. ... The game drew a crowd of 17,406 to Scotiabank Place, almost 2,000 fewer than capacity.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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