BY CONNER CARRINGTON
The woeful Ottawa Senators came into Toronto with a record of 14-18-9. They entered coming off a horrific 8-2 defeat in the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks the night prior.
All signs were pointing towards the Leafs bouncing back in a big way after a let down 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in their previous game. Well, for the Leafs it ended up being a classic trap game instead.
In the beginning, the Leafs looked like the fresher team. They were jumping on multiple defensive turnovers by Ottawa, leading to many opportunities.
The fortunate breaks for Toronto stopped there. Lack of puck luck was not the only thing that was standing in the Leafs way in the first, as Senators goaltender Craig Andersen had a rare great period in an otherwise awful season so far this season. Anderson stopped all 16 shots he saw in the period. Notable plays for him included stopping Mitch Marner on the breakaway, and later a nice glove save on James Van Riemsdyk in the slot.
Anderson’s 1st period effort was rewarded, as Ottawa took advantage of a Leafs questionable line change that saw Toronto put out their 4th line after a missed powerplay. The Senators were quick on the transition leading to a fortunate bounce for Ottawa. A centering pass by Sens defenseman Thomas Chabot hit off Leafs defenseman Roman Polak’s skate in front of the net for an unfortunate own goal at 11:26. After the 1st intermission, it was 1-0 Senators.
Ottawa’s opportunism and the Leafs lack of puck luck transitioned into the 2nd period early.
After defenseman Jake Gardiner missed the net terribly from a shot from the blue line (from a pass by Mitch Marner, who opted to pass on a grade A opportunity to shoot earlier in the shift), the Senators were off in transition.
Matt Duchene found Mike Hoffman in front of the net, shooting the puck past Frederik Andersen. That gave Ottawa a 2-0 lead at 1:54.
After Morgan Rielly hit the cross bar off a shot from the blueline on the powerplay, it was looking like the Leafs were not going to solve the puzzle that was Craig Anderson.
That is, until of the period when a seeing eye shot by defenseman Andreas Borgman hit off a couple of Ottawa defenders and got past Craig Anderson at 18:10. After the second period it was 2-1 Senators.
Apparently, the late period goal gave the Leafs confidence. James Van Riemsdyk showed once again why he is one of the best goal scorers in tight.
While he was in the crease, he weaved the puck through his leg to his stick, and into the back of the net. Only 54 seconds into the third period, the game found itself tied at two.
The tie was short lived. An non-icing call led to a giveaway behind the net by defenseman Andreas Borgman, who turned it over to forward Alex Burrows. Burrows found Filip Chlapik, who took a shot that missed the net and ricocheted off the boards. It was eventually followed up by Gabriel Dumont, who shoveled it past Andersen at 2:15.
The Leafs had another answer. They kept Ottawa in their zone for about three minutes. This eventually set up Morgan Rielly, who scored from the blue line to tie the game once again.
The Leafs were now playing loosely and aggressively on offense, but it ultimately translated to a defensive lapse. A mess of a sequence from Morgan Reilly and Ron Hainsey gave Ottawa a 3 on 1 break, which was finished off by forward Tom Pyatt at 16:55.
Toronto had many chances to tie the game back up in the dying minutes of the game (including a miraculous opportunity that was stopped by Anderson with under ten seconds remaining), but they couldn’t get another.
Anderson had one of the strongest nights of his season, stopping 45 of 48 shots to preserve the Senators win.
- The Senators beat the Leafs 4-3.
- Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen made 28 saves in the loss.
- Toronto has now lost two straight games.
- Toronto’s next game is on January 16th, where they’ll be at home against the St. Louis Blues.
Conner Carrington is a host and columnist on 641media.com and The Scathing Throne.