The Toronto Maple Leafs waltzed into their home away from home and left with a 4-1 win to give them a 4-2 edge in the season series with the Ottawa Senators (gee, that looks familiar) on the back of Jonas Gustavsson's strongest outing of the year. Phil Kessel continued his dominance of the Senators with another goal to get the ball rolling. Then, in 19 seconds, the Maple Leafs were able to triple their lead. First, John Mitchell's strong individual effort got him past Andy Sutton's molasses-like attempt at a hip check before an absolute snipeshow picked the top corner over Elliott's shoulder. Some strong forechecking by Viktor Stalberg and Luca Caputi led to Mikhail Grabovski sneaking one under Brian Elliott's body. Rickard Wallin finished off the scoring by...actually, let me use the best description courtesy of Archimedies:
Heard Wallin's goal was scored into an empty net. Or, as Sens fans call it: Pascal Leclaire
The result was great but it was not without it's faults. The Leafs made a number of glaring giveaways that led to the Senators outchancing the Maple Leafs. Gustavsson's 30 saves included a number of really good close in saves because the defence seemed especially scrambly. The goal came as a result of a combination of Tomas Kaberle coughing up the puck in his own zone (after nicely stripping the puck from a Sen!) and Phil Kessel's failure to cover his point man Andy Sutton:
You can't lose track of a guy that big.
Of course, as is usually the case, with the game getting away from Ottawa Chris Neil began his usual routine. He tried to elbow Kulemin who luckily side-stepped the gap-toothed gutless wonder. When Luke Schenn tried to collect his pound of flesh Jarkko Ruutu jumped in as a third man in. Par for the course. And it was topped off by their fearful leader Daniel Alfredsson who, on the day that Alexander Ovechkin was suspended two games for hitting Brian Campbell from behind in what should always be a slam dunk decision, hit Francois Beauchemin from behind. As you can imagine, Happy Trails was not happy:
I got lucky I didn’t get hurt more than that actually. I heard little cracks in my neck but I’ll get that adjusted tomorrow and everything will be fine. There’s nothing I could’ve done. I was facing the wall, never saw him coming. It’s one of those hits we’re trying to take out of the game and it happened again tonight. He asked me if I was alright and I said ‘What do you want me to do? I’m alright, but it could’ve been a lot worse.
I look forward to the first meeting between these two teams and not just because Orr-Carkner 5: The Reckoning..Again was never fought. I assume that Frankie will have a thing or two to say to Krusty. Until then, we can watch as the Senators, no longer receiving completely insane and unsustainable goaltending, slide down the standings on their way to a four game sweep in the playoffs. As for the Leafs, it will be tough but the Leafs are 4 points back of the Hurricanes and seven away from getting out of the top five draft picks.
A few more thoughts on the game from the advanced statistics:
The Leafs' powerplay was once again horrific. Not only are they failing to create chances but they have now spent two games gifting the best chances to the opposition. 0-for-5 moves them to about 3-for-458 since the trade deadline.
Luke Schenn also loves playing the Senators. He picked up an assist and was + 3 in just over 19 minutes of ice-time.
Schenn managed that despite almost being a double digit negative in Corsi.
Tomas Kaberle and Carl Gunnarsson led the way at +10.
The Senators outshot the Leafs by one at even strength.
The scoring chances for the game were 21 - 15 for the Senators.
That number includes a string of seven in a row to end the first period when the Leafs were losing their grip on the game.
Francois Beauchemin and Dion Phaneuf were heavily outchanced while they were on the ice.