The Ottawa Senators faced the Toronto Maple Leafs for their third and final time this season. Thank goodness it’s the last, as this matchup was exactly what you’d expect pitting one of the league’s top offensive teams against one of the worst defensively. The Toronto offence burst out for six goals, trampling the Senators 6-3.
After going through as many losses as Guy Boucher has this season, his post-game interviews have become almost scripted. “We came out of the gate strong” has been his staple, and for the third game in a row, it’s been voided immediately within the first two minutes. A turnover in the slot gave Mitch Marner some space, who beat Craig Anderson blocker side.
The Sens were on their heels the entire 20 minutes, as although they were outchanced only 19-14, the Leafs’ opportunities were of significantly higher danger. Two more went in before the first intermission, courtesy of Auston Matthews (his seventh goals against Ottawa in eight games), and Mitch Marner again. The Anderson vs Andersen goalie battle was won by Fredrik Andersen, as Ottawa pulled their ‘tender after allowing three on the first ten shots.
And if being down 3-0 didn’t hurt enough, Ottawa took yet another too-many-men penalty, this time while on the power play. It was their league-leading 14th bench penalty of the season, which not only breaks the franchise record, but puts them on pace for the fourth most of all time.
Mike Condon, who was still battling an illness, looked mostly solid as the relief goalie. He cleanly handled Nazem Kadri on a breakaway early in the second, and saved a total 28 shots of the 30 he faced.
The Sens got on the board midway through the period. With the Leafs defence out of position, Mark Stone found Johnny Oduya wide open on the opposite side of the ice. The veteran defender scored, breaking his drought of 31 games that went back to the trip to Sweden in November.
Johnny Oduya with the half-clapper to put the Sens back in it, 3-1 pic.twitter.com/QCDjaVg9YY— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 11, 2018
The hopes of a potential comeback weren’t held for long, as Toronto kept control of the drivers seat. Marner nearly completed the hat trick a few times, with none closer than on the Leafs’ fourth goal. His shot towards the slot from a wide angle deflected off of James van Riemsdyk and went in, as Cody Ceci wasn’t even attempting to clear the crease. The Sens escaped the period still down by three.
The pressure was turned up slightly in the final period, although the Leafs also started to sit back on their lead. 45 seconds after puck drop, a Phaneuf shot from the point deflected off Derick Brassard and between the pipes. After missing the last couple games with an injury, we were reminded that he’s still one of the team’s most important forwards. His four shots on goal were the most on the Sens.
The Leafs responded quickly once again, this time being Nazem Kadri via a feed from Marner. The kid didn’t stop.
In an ever-so-brief glimmer, the Sens’ bright spot of the season, Ryan Dzingel, fired home his own rebound to score what everyone knew was a meaningless goal. His 15 tallies this season surpassed his previous career high from last season, tying him with Mike Hoffman for second on the team in goals.
Ryan Dzingel picks up his own rebound and puts the Senators within two once, again, 5-3 game pic.twitter.com/M9XEKYuGKy— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) February 11, 2018
Patrick Marleau added the empty-netter, giving Marner his fifth point of the night in what might be a historically dominant game.
- Thank goodness Mark Stone and Derick Brassard were back in the lineup, as they together formed the majority of Ottawa’s offence, which only managed to generate 25 shots on goal. The duo has a combined 49 points in 41 games against the Leafs over the course of their careers.
- Mike Condon was able to hold his ground, occasionally bailing out the porous defence.
- Marner, Matthews, Nylander and the rest showed why Ottawa should be afraid of this Leafs team. The next decade of the Battle of Ontario is going to be painful.
- Buffalo and Arizona, for both picking up points in the same evening./
Individual Expected Goals (from MoneyPuck.com)
The Sens take the rest of the weekend off, facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.