Ed Belfour was sterling in Games 2 and 3. After Ottawa burst out with a convincing Game 1 win, Belfour stopped 68 shots over the next two games and pitched back-to-back shutouts. In the pivotal Game 3 (the Leafs took back home-ice advantage with the victory), the Senators got most of the early chances and put on a great deal of third-period pressure, but Belfour never buckled.
SURPRISE OF THE SERIES
That the Senators vaunted power play hasn't been more of a factor, going 0-for-9 in Games 2 and 3 combined. This is partly a result of Belfour's play, and partly thanks to the fine penalty-killing of defensemen Brian Leetch and Bryan McCabe and role-playing forwards such as Tom Fitzgerald. It's also a tribute to Toronto's restraint in Ottawa; the Senators had only three power plays in Game 3. Another surprise is that each team won in the other team's first home game of the playoffs.
THE LEAFS WIN IF ...
Belfour keeps playing anywhere close to the level he's at now, if Toronto can stay away from bad penalties and if Leetch pots a goal or two. Joe Nieuwendyk and Mats Sundin need to continue to play with playoff savvy and score timely goals
THE SENATORS WIN IF ...
They can stop themselves from reeling ASAP. They need to come out strong in Game 4 and get their scorers back on the board -- namely Marian Hossa and Martin Havlat, who both were flying in Game 1 and have since kept up the pressure. Their defensemen need to pepper Belfour with a few more shots.
Belfour can't stay invincible, and the Senators, with both Peter Bondra and Daniel Alfredsson seemingly on the verge of breaking out, are due for an offensive explosion, Ottawa wins Game 4 at home, and comes back to take this highly entertaining series.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Kostya Kennedy takes sides each week at SI.com.