Senators finish with 4-3 overtime win against Maple Leafs

Stephane Da Costa was once again a star, in a 4-3 Ottawa win over the Toronto Maple Leafs rookies. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators won their third straight game at the Oshawa rookie tournament, this time a 4-3 overtime decision against the Toronto Maple Leafs. I was at the game, so here is my recap along with my evaluations of some players, as well as me interviewing Robin Lehner, Mark Stone (okay not really Stone) and Kurt Kleinendorst, which was pretty great. Note, this is a long, long post, so get some caffeine if you plan to read the whole thing, I mean it!

The Senators were quick out of the gate and while there was no shot clock, Ottawa dominated the play in the first period. Corey Cowick was especially noticeable, laying out a big hit early on, and then later springing Stefan Noesen on a partial breakaway. The line of Cowick, Noesen and Derek Grant created plenty of chances in the first, though they quietened a little bit afterwards. The scoring was opened by Stephane Da Costa, scoring his fourth goal in less than three periods, when he wired a shot into the net off a broken play that was started after a fancy David Rundblad spin. Robin Lehner wasn't tested a lot in the first period, but he did make a spectacular save late in the first period to preserve the lead.

The second period started with the Senators shorthanded after Shane Prince took a penalty late in the first. Prince wasn't done and soon took another penalty, but the best chance went to the Senators when Andre Petersson had a breakaway and was thwarted. This came moments after Petersson was absolutely clobbered at the red line while attempting a deke. Thankfully, Petersson got up straight away and didn't look any worse for wear. The Senators were getting plenty of chances with the Da Costa, Mark Stone and Matt Puempel line looking particularly dangerous. It was Jakub Culek who doubled the Ottawa lead though, when he was left all alone in front and he put it in off a one-timer. The Leafs started to come on, and finally scored on Robin Lehner, with Matt Frattin scoring on a 5-on-3 with just 12 seconds left in the period.

The Leafs started the third on the power play and tied it early on a shot that Lehner might have been screened on. Mika Zibanejad soon restored the Ottawa lead with a beautiful goal, roofing a backhand into the top corner following a nice pass by Shane Prince. The rest of the third period was just ticking away, with the only notable thing being back-to-back brilliant saves by Lehner midway through the period. With a minute left, Stefan Noesen had a chance to win a foot race and finish the game with an empty netter. However, he couldn't quite get there and the puck went the other way, where after some lovely passing by the Leafs, Greg McKegg tapped it into the open net with 48 seconds remaining. The game went to overtime and Mark Stone made sure it had a happy ending, when he scored a gorgeous goal on a solo effort, side stepping one defender and skating to the net and snapping it past the Toronto goaltender.

Check after the jump for my thoughts on some of the players as well as some quotes.

Players who impressed

  • Stephane Da Costa - He had a wonderful tournament. He followed up his hat trick effort with another strong performance, scoring a goal and having many more chances. He also played the point on the power play with David Rundblad, which I found interesting. Lastly, while he isn't the biggest guy, I distinctly recall him throwing his weight around at times. Though, then Kleinendorst later adds that Da Costa doesn't get hit, so maybe I was wrong about that.
  • Corey Cowick - He played another good all round game and had some chemistry with Noesen and Grant. He should be an important player for Binghamton this year.
  • Mika Zibanejad - He got stronger as the night went on, and was the best player for the Senators in the third period. He was very happy when he scored his goal, and I just love those reactions. It is going to be interesting to see how both Zibanejad and Da Costa do against older players in the preseason.
  • Andre Petersson - He was again full of sick moves and stickhandling. Had many, many chances but couldn't finish one. He was used with Zibanejad on the penalty kill as well. Also was very aggressive on the penalty kill, attacking the defencemen at the point. He did get hit pretty badly in the second period, so he'll have to learn to keep his head up, as they say.
Players who didn't impress
  • Jared Cowen - He was burned pretty badly a couple of times when he went for a big hit and completely missed, allowing his man to cruise by him. His stickhandling was pretty awkward at times too, including once where he bobbled the puck at the blue line and caused a breakaway going the other way. He did crash the net and get a couple of hacks at a puck though. Still, his decision making and stickhandling need improvement.
  • David Rundblad - Like Cowen, Rundblad was burned as well. In his case, it was due to aggressive pinching leading to odd-man rushes a couple of times. He did have a fancy spin in the lead up to the first goal, but overall, he didn't create too many chances.
Maybe I was just expecting too much from them, and I know it is only one game, but both Cowen and Rundblad have to improve in order to make the NHL club. They should hopefully get better in preseason when urgency is a little higher.

Lastly, after the game, me and a couple of other reporters got to talk to coach Kurt Kleinendorst and Mark Stone. After waiting for a bit, Robin Lehner also talked to me (and shook my hand!). Here is a transcript:

Kurt Kleinendorst

On the importance of the Leafs/Senators rivalry to the players:
We talked today about introducing the young players to the rivalry. The Leafs and the Senators, you know say what you want, you can sense it out there. I mean, there is just something, there is not a whole lot of like out there.

On Mark Stone's winning goal in overtime:
Yeah it was some what of a masterpiece really. I think it might have been his first shot on net tonight, all in all might have struggled just a little bit. But that's the sign of a good hockey player right there, didn't necessarily have a great night but had a great finish. When we really need him, he came through for us. Just a lot of poise and a good snap at the very end.

Me asking about Zibanejad's backhand goal and if he had every seen it before.
I have not seen that before but, I bet at some point down the road we will see it again. He really shows you what kind of player he is and what kind of potential he has, he is a big strong kid. These aren't easy tournaments to play, three games in four nights, high energy, we practice, so it is not easy for these guys to perform. But he seems to perform very well night in and night out.

On the reaction after the Leafs tied it.
Well for me it is all about you don't get too excited when you score or have a lead, and you don't get too wound up when they score or you don't have a lead. My terminology is we soldier on, we don't let anything affect us one way or the other.

Me asking to compare his opinion of the play of Zibanejad and Da Costa.
Well they are both pretty good players. Stephane's puck poise is pretty impressive, the way he sees the ice is pretty impressive. He's not a big guy, but he doesn't get hit much. He's very aware, very alert, got a high level of hockey sense. Stephane is a nice player.

Mika, he is a different player. He's got good hockey sense, he's got nice hands, he skates well, he's just a bigger, stronger body. They are unique in their own ways, but they are both effective hockey players. It depends on what Bryan wants to do with them, it's his call, but it's nice to see these guys in our organisation, they are going to be good players for us.

Me asking if he prefers Zibanejad to make the team, so Da Costa can come back to Binghamton with him (since Zibanejad can't).
I am hoping Mika makes the big club to be quite honest with you. That doesn't mean that Stephane will come down with me, it means somebody is going to get pushed down. I wish they could all make the big club, but we all know that is just not the way it works.

Mark Stone (I didn't ask Stone any questions because at the time I wasn't sure who it was).

On how it feels to score the winning goal.
Yeah, it feels great obviously, with the rivalry between Toronto and Ottawa. To come on top like that, it is great to score the goal, means a lot to me.

On if he can describe the moment.
You know, things like that, when they happen, they happen. 

On how much it means to win the tournament.
It's huge, shows a lot for the prospects in the Ottawa organisation, we had a great group of guys who played for each other.

Robin Lehner

Me asking how the game went with him not facing a lot of action early on.
It wasn't too much action, it came in periods. When they came, they were pretty dangerous, you have to be on your toes a lot. They have skilled players, they played a high speed game. Every time they came into the offensive zone, they were dangerous.

Me asking if he is satisfied with his two games, not having allowed a single 5-on-5 goal.
No, well, we haven't had a lot of time to work on the power play. I have to do a better job of finding the puck through traffic. Last goal, it was a really nice hockey goal. It was a great game, two good teams playing each other, it was good we got the win.

Me asking him about being quoted as saying that whenever he talks to the media, he is made to look arrogant and if he was being misquoted or misunderstood.
No, they are not misquoting me. I am confident, I don't mean anything bad, I don't think I am the best in the world, I don't think I am the worst either. I am a pretty confident guy, sometimes my passion for the game gets a little misunderstood. That's that and I have to be better at that, because it is harder to play when everyone thinks that I am above everyone else.
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