Heading into the fifth game of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators surprisingly had a 2-2-0 record against them, with their two losses being just 3-2 and 2-1. So at the end of this 3-game stretch in Toronto, the Senators had a chance to once again take the lead in the season series against the division leaders.
And hey, tonight actually had a similar feeling to Monday at one point! Because both games were 5-1 were Toronto in the 2nd period...Unfortunately, Ottawa was unable to repeat their magic from Monday, as they left Toronto with a disappointing performance.
The Senators had been playing quite well over the previous 8 games despite just the three wins, but tonight was not quite the same. Auston Matthews opened the scoring with 9:31 left in the first period, and shortly thereafter, Marcus Hogberg had to leave the game with what appears to be a groin injury:
Matt Murray was then forced to come in despite also playing last night, which was less than ideal considering he is also just coming back from an injury. It wasn’t surprising to see the Leafs take advantage of a goalie coming in cold, as Joe Thornton was able to make it 2-0 just a few minutes later by tipping in a Jake Muzzin point shot.
A minute later and with 2:09 to go in the first period though, Ottawa had some life. Tim Stützle came blazing down the left wing and somehow sneaked the puck past righty-catching backup Michael Hutchinson. I still don’t really know how he got it in:
It was a potential turning point for a team that wasn’t playing its best hockey through the first 20 minutes, as they were still facing an uphill battle.
However, before the period could close, Matthews scored his second of the game and 16th of the season, which really put a damper on the mood heading into the next period. With the puck behind the net and Murray with his eye on it, Mitch Marner made a nifty bounce-pass to Matthews, and he snuck it in short-side before Murray even realized the puck was on his stick.
At that point, the game wasn’t going Ottawa’s way, then again, neither was Monday’s game. And just 3:45 into the second period, Ottawa had them right where they wanted them...down 5-1. Ilya Mikheyev scored the fourth goal from the point on a shot that Murray would like to have back, and Marner dangled around Mike Reilly before scoring a beautiful top-shelf goal that Murray didn’t have much of a chance on. Yet the funny thing was, there was still a feeling that the Senators could make a game of it once again.
The Senators started their comeback even earlier this time, with Connor Brown scoring on a shot that went in-and-out incredibly quickly at the 12:23 mark. Was it...déjà-vu?
NHL Video Highlight - Connor Brown scores against the Toronto Maple Leafs to make it 2-5. pic.twitter.com/pHjn9TIV5m— Toronto Maple Leafs Game Bot (@MapleLeafsBot) February 19, 2021
Despite Ottawa’s scoring troubles this season, it was strange that after that goal, it honestly felt as if they could come back once again.
Nevertheless, William Nylander would get the next goal with 9 minutes left in the 2nd period while on the powerplay. Murray was unable to catch a Jason Spezza shot, and Nylander was right there to bury the rebound. That goal just encapsulates the poor defense and goaltending from the Senators this season. After 40 minutes, it was 6-2 for Toronto, with a comeback seeming much less likely this time around.
Ottawa showed a bit more life in the third period (as all teams down 4 goals will), and they were able to put up 16 shots against Toronto’s 7. The game was over by that point though, and the Senators were looking for any sort of moral victories. One of those was Drake Batherson scoring his 3rd of the season on a lucky bounce—and luck is something that had not been attributed to Batherson so far. John Tavares would add one final goal for Toronto with over 3 minutes to go on a goal that Murray saw coming from a mile away but could not stop for whatever reason.
Ottawa kept pushing until the end to get more players on the scoresheet, but they were unable to solve Hutchinson any further. By the end of the game, it was a disappointing 7-3 result. A 2-1 mini-series win in Toronto would have been amazing, but even one win is better than I expected.
- We should be updated on Hogberg’s injury soon, and hopefully he isn’t out for long. (according to DJ, he will most likely be out at least for the weekend) Then again, if he is, it gives Joey Daccord a chance to show what he can do.
- Murray had been on a solid run the past 6 games with a .920 SV%, although he looked poor once again tonight. Then again, he didn’t expect to play and it’s not easy to play on back-to-back nights. So it’s fair to say that he was quite awful but we can cut him a bit of slack.
- Stützle scored his 5th goal of the season and first in 8 games. He was able to create some good chances besides that as well.
- Drake Batherson desperately needed another goal, so good for him (even if it was a lucky one).
- The lack of Thomas Chabot in the lineup was noticeable, and that was very predictable.
- Artem Zub (who else?) led the team in xGF% once again at 73.08%.
- Brady Tkachuk was pretty quiet tonight, with only 16:10 in ice-time as well.
- Austin Watson (?) and Derek Stepan (??) led the team in individual shot attempts with 8 and 7, respectively.
The Senators head home for a two-game series against Montreal, with their first game being played on Sunday at 7:00 EST.