Toronto blows first period two-goal lead, Senators double up Maple Leafs 4-2

Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
6 months ago
After coming off a bounce-back win over the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday night before their three-day Christmas break, the Toronto Maple Leafs returned to action last night at home to take on the Ottawa Senators for the third edition of the Battle of Ontario.

First period:

The third edition of the Battle of Ontario started with a lot of pace for both teams. I guess the three-day Christmas break didn’t bother either team, as the Senators’ fourth line tested Martin Jones early with a couple of chances, including hitting a post from a shot by Jiri Smejkal.
After that little flurry of chances from Ottawa, Toronto went to work in the Senators’ zone, generating some brilliant scoring chances, but Joonas Korpisalo was there to deny them. Artem Zub made a terrific play by getting his stick in the way of a Tyler Bertuzzi scoring chance with the net wide open.
However, Ottawa couldn’t keep this one out of the net as Auston Matthews fired a shot from distance, and it found its way past Korpisalo for his 29th goal of the season.
However, the replay of the goal looked like it may have touched Matthew Knies’ skate and changed direction before going into the net, and that was indeed the case as they later awarded the goal to Knies, giving him eight on the year.
Less than 30 seconds after the opening goal for Toronto, Morgan Rielly found Tyler Bertuzzi back door, and he directed his sixth of the season past Korpisalo for the 2-0 lead just six minutes into the game. This goal snapped Bertuzzi’s lengthy goal drought, with his last goal coming against the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 25th. William Nylander also picked up a secondary assist, which extended his point streak to 12 games.
After falling behind 2-0, the Ottawa Senators received the game’s first power play because of course. Luckily for Toronto, their penalty kill did a good job and didn’t give Ottawa much to work with, and later, they would be awarded a power play of their own. However, like Ottawa’s power play, Toronto couldn’t capitalize, and the game remained 2-0.
The Maple Leafs headed into the first intermission up 2-0, outshooting Ottawa 12-6 and controlling most of the play.

Second period:

With Toronto up 2-0, a push from Ottawa was inevitable. After being outshot 12-6 in the first period and outscored 2-0, the Senators came out for the second period with a lot more jump than Toronto. They jumped out to an early 6-1 shot advantage five minutes in and could’ve had a goal or two.
The Maple Leafs eventually found their feet and started to push back, and with Josh Norris whistled for high sticking, Toronto had an opportunity to go up 3-0 with another power play coming their way. Unfortunately, like the first man advantage they had, they struggled to generate any scoring chances, and Ottawa would be the one to score, as Parker Kelly notched his second of the season to cut their deficit in half.
In typical Toronto Maple Leafs fashion, they allowed Ottawa to get the next goal after Kelly put his team on the board. Just over four minutes after their short-handed goal, Drake Batherson cleaned up a juicy rebound to tie the game at two, and just like that, the Maple Leafs blew a 2-0 lead against a bottom-feeder team.
After holding a two-goal lead after the first period, Toronto saw themselves in a tie game heading into the second intermission. Toronto and Ottawa were tied with 20 shots a piece, with the Maple Leafs outshot 14-8.

Third period:

After the first period, Toronto looked by far the better team. Ottawa didn’t have any juice, and they didn’t look engaged in the game. But that Parker Kelly short-handed goal gave them life in the second period, bringing them back into the game.
As both teams entered the third period, Toronto was the team that needed to get the next goal. They couldn’t afford Ottawa to score the next one. Well, unfortunately, after countless looks and countless opportunities to retake the lead, Ottawa did everything they could do to somehow keep the puck out of their net, and Drake Batherson would then score his second of the night to give his team the 3-2 lead three and a half minutes into the third frame.
The Maple Leafs responded well after that third Ottawa goal, but for some reason, the hockey gods were not on their side last night. They managed to generate 16 shots on Korpisalo but couldn’t, for whatever reason, find the back of the net for a third time.
After scoring two goals in 23 seconds, Toronto struggled the rest of the game to find that tying goal. Brady Tkachuk would pot home the empty-net goal to give his team the 4-2 lead, and that’s how the game ended on Toronto’s 11th Next Generation game.

Who stood out:

Before I get into who stood out in last night’s game, I have to discuss the power play. Last night, Toronto’s power play went 0-for-3, didn’t look all that dangerous, and allowed a short-handed goal to Parker Kelly, which sparked the Senators’ comeback after falling behind 2-0 in the first period.
For a team that is ranked inside the top five on the power play and went up against a Senators team whose penalty kill ranked near dead last in December, not scoring a single goal on the man advantage was a massive failure for Toronto. Nevertheless, let’s talk about who stood out in their 4-2 loss.
Despite only appearing on the scoresheet once with his first period goal, Tyler Bertuzzi was a man on a mission last night. He registered four shots on goal, and if it wasn’t for Artem Zub blocking his shot when the net was wide open in the first or when the puck was dribbling on the goal line in the third period when Toronto was searching for that tying goal, Bertuzzi easily could’ve had three or four goals. But it wasn’t only him. His line generated an xGF of 1.30 at five-on-five, according to Naturalstattrick.com.
Speaking of his line, Nylander picked up an assist on the Bertuzzi goal, extending his point streak to 12 games. After starting the season on a ridiculous 17-game point streak, Nylander went three games without a point in games 18, 19 and 20 but then began another lengthy point streak, which he is currently on. This guy has been the definition of consistent this season. He has 46 points (16 goals and 30 assists) in 32 games, putting him on pace to finish the season with 118 points (41 goals and 77 assists), which would crush his career-high of 87 points, which he set last season.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game Friday night when they head back on the road to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.
(Stats from NHL.com)
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