The Halifax Metro Centre was the site of this 'home' game for the Leafs. Thanks to our national fan base the poor sens were treated to a less than hospitable reception. Paul Maurice dressed almost the entire Marlies squad in order to reward them for their hard work in camp. The AHL team came flying out of the gates against the veteran laden sens and skated them off the rink. The Baby Leafs outshot them 19-6 and outscored them 2-0.
Unfortunately, the second and third periods saw Mark Lee put in an impressive performance for the sens. What? You have never heard of Mark Lee? well that's because he was the ref for the game but that did not stop him from helping the sens out with a few 5-on-3s (Heatley and Spezza promptly scored) and a string of penalties that took the wind out of the team's sails. A blistering first intermission team talk from Brian Murray probably helped improve the sens's effort as well.
sens' fans can also take heart from the fact that both goal scorers are in mid-season form. Spezza hacked Steen in the back and tried to intimidate him until Brad Brown suggested that maybe Jason would prefer to dance with him. Spezza (aptly described as a punk)promptly skated hard for the bench. And, in a clear sign that Dany has now completely acclimated himself to the sens, he took a two-handed tomahawk chop to Brendan Bell's ankle. In typical sens fashion, that brutal baseball swing added the defenceman to the injured list which now reads like the Leafs starting defence corps.
All in all it was a good game. The penalty kill again looked good. 5-on-4 the Leafs got in the shooting lanes well and put pressure on the puck. 5-on-3 was where the class of the sens' forwards shone through. Although the scoresheet will show that the Leafs allowed 3 PPGs fans can take solace in the fact that one came with one second left in a penalty (Kelly's goal was scrambled in front) and two came on 5-on-3s. The work that has been done on the powerplay was evident as the puck was moved around sharply and quickly regardless of the on-ice personnel.
Maple Leaf Goals
This one was courtesy of the powerplay. Wozniewski passed it to Bell at the top of the zone who then feathered a pass to O'Neill. He blasted a one-timer through Emery's legs to give the Leafs the lead.
Jay Harrison, in another solid outing, stopped a clearance at the blueline and got a low wrist shot on net. The soon to be a Leaf John Pohl pounced on the rebound and fired it high to double the lead.
The Final Word
The ottawa senators should have known they were in for a tough night the minute they touched the ice at the Halifax Metro Centre. They got booed. It was just like playing at the Air Canada Centre. Even the big screen mocked the senators by flashing "Go Leafs Go." Halifax is Maple Leafs Country. It looked as if the sellout crowd of 10,595 would go home happy, too. The Leafs took it to the Senators in the first period and took a 2-0 lead on goals from Jeff O'Neill and John Pohl. At that point, though, senators coach Bryan Murray exploded, and it worked.
Despite a disappointing 3-2 loss here last night that saw the Ottawa Senators take control of the scoreboard with two goals in the third period, the Leafs gave a solid, encouraging account of themselves, and have now set up some tough decisions for the next round of roster cuts.
Since this was not played in an NHL arena there are no official NHL stats so I have no real idea if any were selected. Here is my opinion:
3rd star: JS Aubin - he is definitely not making the back-up decision easy and he has to be the favourite to stay with the big club.
2nd star: Jay Harrison - another strong defensive effort will see the defenceman's chances of staying with the Leafs take a boost. If not, he will definitely be one of the first call-ups when the injuries came. He is also the best defenceman at getting his shot through on net.
1st star: Mark Lee - whenever the sens looked like the Baby Leafs might build up some momentum Lee made a big play to stall them. Instrumental in both 5-on-3 powerplays in the third period that saw the sens take a lead that they would no relinquish.