Sens Start Sluggish Before Waking Up, Lose in Shootout
Playoff fate is again out of Ottawa's control
It was not the start that Ottawa fans were hoping for. After only three minutes of back and forth play, Joffrey Lupul put the puck past Andrew Hammond to give the Maple Leafs the early 1-0 lead.
The rest of the first period was something better forgotten for the Senators. While there was some more back and forth, the only sustained pressure of the period was in the Ottawa end. How bad was it? It was the single best period the Leafs have had all season for generating shots on net.
Not that the Sens were without their chances, they were just few and far between. The best one of the period was Mark Stone on the penalty kill - though one he elected not to shoot on.
Something must have happened between periods, though. The Ottawa Senators were a much different team from the 20 minute mark on. In the first ten minutes of the period they managed a whopping 23 shot attempts for and allowed only two against, though that was aided by a series of Toronto penalties.
It was during that stretch that Ottawa would make it on to the board. Erik Karlsson would jump up to join the scrum around the net during the second Ottawa power play to bang in a rebound past Jonathan Bernier to tie the game up. That marks the 21st goal of the season for the Captain, a career high, and a league leading 65th point among defensemen.
Toronto responded a few minutes later during 4 on 4 play, with Peter Holland feeding James van Riemsdyk on a rush to return the lead to the Leafs. The period would end with Ottawa still down by one, but on the power play.
The power play to start the third let the Senators gain early control of the period and keep the pressure from the second period up and they took full advantage of it. Kyle Turris fed Mark Stone in front of the net, who buried the puck with a one-timer. Stone is now only two points back of Forsberg and Gaudreau for the rookie scoring lead with 59 points. The assist also put Turris at 60 points on the season - one point more than former 1C Jason Spezza has this season.
The rest of the third period played out to the reverse of the first period - while there was some back and forth, the only sustained pressure was at the Toronto end of the ice. Bernier had to work hard for his saves tonight, and he definitely did that in the third. Not that Hammond was let off easy either - he was definitely tested, and may have saved the season by denying Phil Kessel on a 2 on 1 with JvR.
The Leafs were finally given another power play opportunity when a rough clearing attempt by Patrick Wiercioch hit the stick of Bobby Ryan who was lollygagging while going over the boards during a line change.
Overtime was more of the same, and solved nothing. There was a moment where it looked like Methot might have put the puck through the net, but the overhead angle (not shown by Sportsnet - probably too busy with the Skycam) shows it ringing off the post instead.
The shootout was the shootout - nerve wracking. Mika Zibanejad would beat Bernier on the first shot, but that would be the only time Ottawa would manage it. It took seven rounds, but Peter Holland would score the second shootout goal on Hammond to give the Leafs the win.
In the end, Ottawa left an extremely valuable point on the table and handed control of their playoff fate back to the Penguins.
Sens Killer: Jonathan Bernier
Even during the first period when the ice was tilted away from him, Bernier was called on to make a few big saves. During the second and third periods, he's the reason this wasn't an Ottawa blowout.
Sen Hero: Andrew Hammond
Kept the team in it during the first period, and made some spectacular saves on the few and far between chances during the rest of the game. Stopping 5 of 7 shots in the shootout also gave the team a chance to win.
Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
Stone had a few good chances through the course of the game, and scored the tying goal.
Mention: Bobby Ryan
Depending on how you want to factor in the bounces, this could be Honourable or Dishonourable. Overall Ryan had a good game, but couldn't buy a bounce and cost the team valuable momentum late in the third by taking his sweet time getting off the ice.
Dishonourable Mention: Clarke MacArthur
Is it just me, or does the Grizz always seem to have rough games against his former team? Tonight was no exception. Not bad enough to get a Zero, but bad enough to be noticed.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick