Unlucky Leafs fall to Senators
Toronto outshot Ottawa 47-32 and carried the play much of the game, but the Sens made the most of their chances
By DAVID SHOALTS
Thursday, January 11, 2018 Print Edition, Page B13
TORONTO -- Bad luck and one too many defensive mistakes sent the Toronto Maple Leafs into their five-day break on a sour note.
On the other side of the coin, the Ottawa Senators, who also began their NHL-mandated annual break after Wednesday's game, went into it on a high by beating the Leafs 4-3 one night after getting humiliated by the Chicago Blackhawks.
After the Leafs - who were the better team most of the night and outshot the Sens 47-32 - fought hard to tie the score in the third period, one more bad bounce and bad decision cost them. The bounce created a three-on-one Ottawa rush late in the third period and when Leafs defenceman Ron Hainsey gambled by going after puck carrier Matt Duchene, a quick pass sent Tom Pyatt in alone on Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen. Pyatt scored the winning goal with about three minutes left in the period.
The Maple Leafs deserved better as they dominated the Senators, holding a whopping 63-35 edge in shot attempts in the first two periods, but trailed the visitors 2-1 at the end of the second.
In fact, until rookie defenceman Andreas Borgman bounced a shot off an Ottawa forward and into the top corner as the second period wound down, there was serious doubt the Leafs would ever get a puck behind Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.
Anderson carried an .897 save percentage into the game and was pulled after coughing up four goals on 26 shots in Ottawa's 8-2 shellacking Tuesday night at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, but none of that carried over against the Leafs. He was easily the Senators' best player, as the Leafs, with the Auston Matthews line leading the way, banged away at him in the first two periods, to little effect.
But once they got to him with Borgman's goal from the point at 18:10 in the second, the Leafs wasted little time doing it again.
They tied the score 54 seconds into the third when James van Riemsdyk made his patented tuck-the-puck-between-his-own legs move and scored on a backhand.
However, the Leafs were quickly undone once again by a combination of bad luck and a defensive mistake. They failed to clear the puck quickly from their own zone and a long shot from the point hit the glass behind Andersen and bounced straight back to the slot. It landed in front of Sens forward Gabriel Dumont, who quickly slapped it in the net to give the Sens a 3-2 lead.
The Leafs, though, stuck at it and were rewarded on another shot from the point through a crowd. This one was taken by Morgan Rielly, who scored his fifth goal of the season at 12:28 to tie the score 3-3.
The Leafs started the game skating hard and kept the puck in the Senators zone in the opening minutes. There were several scoring chances, a couple of awful Ottawa giveaways - including one by Erik Karlsson - and the Leafs looked to be on their way.
Leading the charge was Matthews. In the first three minutes, he missed an open net, hit a post and then was robbed by Anderson on a third scoring chance.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, that set the tone.
Midway through the first period, Sens defenceman Thomas Chabot threw a centring pass to the front of the Leafs net, where it hit Leafs defenceman Roman Polak's skate and bounced in.
Next came a defensive miscue when Leafs defenders Jake Gardiner and Connor Carrick were caught out of position early in the second period. When van Riemsdyk was unable to tie up Mike Hoffman, the Sens winger scored his 11th goal of the season.
By the midway point of the second period, Carrick paid the price, as Babcock nailed him to the bench . This could mean more ice time after the break for newly promoted rookie Travis Dermott, in the press box for the Ottawa game.
Ottawa Senators winger Ryan Dzingel watches a shot get deflected past Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen during action at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Wednesday night.
FRANK GUNN/THE CANADIAN PRESS