If only hockey games were decided after 20 minutes. Ottawa brought the play to Toronto for much of the first period, outshooting the Leafs 10-6, and had to walk out of the frame feeling good about their game. However, despite strong pressure throughout, they had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Unfortunately for the Sens, they were unprepared for what the Leafs brought for the remaining 40 minutes. If the team thought Toronto was going to roll over, they guessed wrong tonight. Toronto proceeded to outhit, outwork, and outskate Ottawa for the remainder of the game, and Ottawa was not able to overcome their opponent’s adjustments in spite a strong effort of their own at the end of the third period.
Sens Heroes: Nick Foligno, Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza
Is it a good sign that two of the players on here were also heroes in the last game? At the very least, it’s encouraging.
Nick Foligno was Ottawa’s hardest working player on the ice for the third game in a row, and that’s saying something considering the efforts players like Fisher, Daniel Alfredsson, and Anton Volchenkov bring every night. But there was Foligno, driving his legs, going to the net, fighting along the boards, you name it. Once again, Foligno’s hard work around the net led to an easy goal for a teammate, this time Mike Fisher. If he keeps this level of play, he should see his point totals rise quickly.
Mike Fisher, the beneficiary of Foligno’s work on the night, put together a fine night of his own. Fisher was his typical self, racing all over the ice and generally playing smart, physical hockey. Too bad more of his teammates didn’t follow his lead.
Jason Spezza also had another strong game. He was second on the team with four shots and what can only be described as a fun goal, where he dangled Vesa Toskala while standing still and then used a strong wrist shot to put it in the net. It should also be noted that Spezza was a turnover machine in this game, but much of the credit for that goes to the Leafs, who seemed to have every passing lane clogged up once they made adjustments.
Sens Zeroes: Filip Kuba, Brian Elliot
Brian Elliot really doesn’t deserve to be here, but his first goal was a brutal softie that visibly emboldened the Leafs. It’s hard to call the first goal of the game a gamebreaker, but it really was. Elliot has been prone to bad goals at bad times and tonight was no different. Get well soon, Pascal!
Kuba, on the other hand, was a borderline Sens Killer tonight. A painful minus two with a power play assist, his play was so bad tonight that I wondered if he was trying to get traded. Bad decisions, bad passes, bad skating… bad, bad, bad. Also, bad.
Sens Killer #1: Phil Kessel
He embarrassed Elliot with a soft wrister to the glove side. I don’t really want to talk more about it. Watch the highlights, I guess.
Sens Killer #2: The Road
Ottawa drops to 5-8-1 on the road this year, and that is not going to get it done if the team wants to have a realistic shot at the playoffs. This team must play better on the road, plain and simple.
There were two bench penalties for too many men on the ice tonight. Shockingly, neither was against Ottawa.
Chris Phillips had another tip-in chance tonight. That’s two in two games. Phillips jumping into plays? Take note, Karlsson.
If there was a "Solid Sens" category, Karlsson would be in there. He’s gotten steadily better since his call-up. Let’s hope this is a trend that continues.
Sens Killer #3: Toronto’s adjustments
You thought we were done with two? You were wrong. Credit must be given to the Leafs (and it hurt to type that) for the changes they made after the first intermission. They had passing lanes filled and Ottawa’s players stymied. It seemed like every option for outlet passes had a blue jersey draped over them. At one point, Volchenkov couldn’t even break out from behind his own net without turning it over. Cory Clouston usually is able to adjust what he sees on the ice, but there was no answer tonight.