for this game

Maurice coaches first game for Maple Leafs vs. Senators

Oct 4, 2006 - 2:46 PM Ottawa (52-21-9) at Toronto (41-33-8) 7:30 pm EDT

TORONTO (Ticker) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping coach Paul Maurice has the magic touch to help the franchise claim its first Stanley Cup title since 1967.

Maurice makes his coaching debut with the Maple Leafs on Wednesday when they host their Northeast Division rivals, the Ottawa Senators, in the season opener for both teams.

The league's youngest coach (39), Maurice takes over a squad that failed to reach the postseason last spring following a fourth-place finish in the division. He will be behind an NHL bench for the first time since December 14, 2003, when he was fired by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Among the newcomers looking for a fresh start in Toronto is Michael Peca, who returns to his hometown after managing just nine goals in 71 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season.

The offseason departure of goaltender Ed Belfour opened the door for Andrew Raycroft, the 2004 Calder Trophy winner who slipped last season, going 8-19-0 with the Boston Bruins.

Ottawa feels it has something to prove after a disappointing finish to an impressive regular season. The Senators won 52 games, scored a league-high 314 goals and ended one point in front of eventual-champion Carolina for the best record in the East.

However, Ottawa's campaign came to an abrupt end by losing to the Buffalo Sabres in six games of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

New goaltender Martin Gerber comes off a trip to the Stanley Cup finals with the Hurricanes and will team up with 23-year-old Ray Emery, who played well after Dominik Hasek was injured at the Torino Olympics.

Dany Heatley posted career highs with 50 goals and 103 points, captain Daniel Alfredsson added a career-best 103 points and linemate Jason Spezza was second in the league with 71 assists.

The Senators, who won seven of the eight encounters against the Maple Leafs last season, will host Toronto on Thursday.

Before the game, the Maple Leafs will raise banners to honor Hall of Famers Hap Day, Red Kelly and Borje Salming.

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