Postgame: Senators overtake Leafs in Toronto

The Leafs took on the Ottawa Senators tonight in Toronto. With Mitchell Marner out, the Leafs certainly will miss his energy. But, Nikita Soshnikov returns to the lineup, who himself will certainly bring some level of energy and offence himself.

This is the 4th of 4 meetings between the two clubs this season, with the Leafs getting points in each of the previous 3 games (1-0-2). 

Huge shoutout to Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) for the gifs used below.

1st period

The Leafs, especially William Nylander, looked good early on, but the Senators were certainly getting some dangerous chances. 

After the Leafs were unable to score on a 2 man advantage, the Senators built up some momentum and were able to create zone time by good zone exit prevention, creating turnovers on the Leafs’ attempted breakout passes. One of these turnovers ends up on Chris Wideman’s stick, beating Frederik Andersen on the far side. 1-0 Senators.

Shortly after, on a faceoff win turned over by the Leafs, a point shot from Ceci is tipped home by Ryan Dzingel and beats Andersen high. 2-0 Sens.

Bobby Ryan throws a puck out and over the glass to give the  Leafs their third powerplay of the game. An important chance to stop the onslaught from the Senators ultimately goes awry, and the Leafs aren’t able to score before the period ends. They’ll have 15 seconds of powerplay time to start the 2nd. Period ends with the Senators up 2-0.

2nd period

The Senators begun the period appearing to be the stronger team, but by no means were the Leafs out of it. The first 9 minutes were largely a fight for zone time that neither team really won. The Senators had the most dangerous chance around the 12 minutes-left mark on a cross ice tap in pass that was stopped by Andersen.

Midway through the second, Matt Martin takes a penalty on a battle for the puck on the sideboards in the Leafs’ zone. During that kill, Hyman takes a penalty while forechecking to put the Leafs down 2 men. However, the Senators were unable to score on their 5-on-3 chance.

Starting to run away with the game now, the Senators were completely preventing the Leafs from generating any offence. 

With 5 minutes left in the second period, Zach Hyman is able to push Methot into Anderson and create a distraction for Morgan Rielly’s point shot to float past the unprepared Ottawa goalie. 2-1 for Ottawa.

The goal went right to the Leafs’ legs as it always seems to do, as they finally started to show some measured determination on the offensive attack.

The Leafs take that energy and create a cycle in the zone. A point shot slips through the crease and is knocked behind the net, where Kadri banks it in off of the back of Anderson to tie the game 2-2. 

The period would end at that tied score, 2-2.

3rd period

In the first minute of the period, Hyman draws a penalty on good drive with his legs. On the powerplay, Auston Matthews makes a great play at the line to create some space, and feeds William Nylander for a great shot that beats Anderson to give the Leafs the lead.

The Leafs followed up with a really good 4th line shift, both Ben Smith and Nikita Soshnikov put in really good work to hold the Senators in their zone and get a few point chances onto the net.

A short time later, Ottawa was able to create some zone time for themselves and a perfect shot by Mike Hoffman beats Andersen to bring the game back to a tie.

On a poorly taken penalty by Nazem Kadri, the Senators are able to use a point shot to create a mess in front of the net and behind Andersen. The Senators take the lead 4-3.

The Leafs pulled their goalie with 2 minutes left in the game and Mark Stone is able to send a long shot into the Leafs’ net to make the game 5-3.

The Senators would bury another empty netter, and the game would end at that score, 6-3 for the Senators over the Maple Leafs.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Leafs put up a pretty poor showing. Despite the fact that two goals were empty netters, I felt the Leafs didn’t deserve to be as close as they were with the Senators in this game, so the final score in fact does reflect the quality of the game.

Jake Gardiner in particular had a very bad game, and the Leafs overall were not in control this game. Leivo had some very good shifts, and William Nylander and Auston Matthews looked good together as always.

My three stars for the night:

  1. Mike Hoffman
  2. Chris Wideman
  3. William Nylander
The Leafs take on the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow on a back-to-back weekend set. Catch that game on Sportsnet at 7:30 PM Eastern.