The Battle of Ontario is renewed for the 2017/2018 season. Let’s get started. Ottawa kind of had the Leafs number at times last year. Hopefully, that changes.
[20:00] It’s 7:12 and still no hockey. Start the game!
[20:00] The Leafs lineup is the same as usual. Moore takes his place on the 4th line, while Borgman retains his role on the third pair. Andersen vs Anderson in net.
[20:00] Conservatively, the crowd is 75% Leafs supporters.
[19:12] Senators get the first decent chance as Erik Karlsson sets up Johnny Oduya for a point blast.
[17:35] Nylander could stickhandle through anything.
[16:55] Hoffman has a free shot off a 2-on-1, but Andersen is up to it. Dangerous chance - Hoffman can rip it.
[16:30] Brown is just so dogged on the forecheck.
[15:28] After some pressure by Ottawa, Connor Carrick takes a penalty. It started from a turnover by Mitch Marner. Early chance for Ottawa to take the lead.
[14:38] Strong early start to the kill for the Leafs. Not letting Ottawa get much set up.
[13:45] It’s beyond dumb that Leafs fans boo Dion Phaneuf. He’s guilty of nothing besides not being worth the contract Nonis gave him.
[13:28] Anyways, the Leafs kill the penalty, and need to get playing soon. They haven’t generated much at all, and the Sens rush chances have been the best in the game so far.
[13:19] Marner gets a shift with Kadri and Marleau after the PK.
[12:25] A lob pass above the head of Hainsey results in Hoffman getting a partial break, but he shoots it right into Andersen’s chest. They’re getting some real chances.
[10:48] More strong pressure from Ottawa, as their fourth line hems the fourth line of the Leafs in. No real chances, but you take that all day if you’re the Sens.
[10:19] That’s followed up by a strong shift from Hoffman’s group, as they get more chances, this time on Kadri’s unit. Shots are 8-3 Ottawa right now.
[9:15] Nylander looks on it early. Another zone entry and he nearly sets up Matthews for a tap-in.
[8:37] God, the Leafs fourth line is just getting caved in right now. Immediately after the Nylander shift, they get stuck in their own zone off a couple brutal turnovers. Matt Martin looking particularly bad right now.
[8:37] So far, Willie and Freddie have shown up. Everyone else... we’re still waiting.
[7:59] Well, that seemed inevitable. Ottawa scores a goal off a mad scramble. Ottawa just manhandled the Leafs on the forecheck, threw it at the net, and threw enough bodies to get it in. Ugly goal, but they all count the same. 1-0 Ottawa. Nate Thompson with the goal.
[7:34] Immediately after, Bobby Ryan breezes by James van Riemsdyk and nearly slots it five-hole on Freddie. Awful start for the Leafs.
[6:23] The Matthews group with their first super-strong shift, controlling the puck in the Senators zone. Nothing doing on the goal front.
[5:26] The Leafs follow that up with another strong shift. This is more of what they need.
[5:26] Anecdotally, it seems like Ottawa is trying to take away the D-to-D pass for the Leafs, and force them into limited options in passing up the ice.
[3:52] What a horrific pass from Zaitsev, oh my God. He plays an inaccurate pass to Matthews in front of his own net that falls right to Mark Stone, who mercifully rings it off the post.
[2:54] Borgman with an intrepid rush up the ice, but all that results from it is a low percentage shot from a bad angle.
[2:16] Ottawa has seemingly mastered the ability to clear the puck hard enough to get it out of the zone, but soft enough to not trigger icing. It’s maddening.
[1:39] The Bozak line has a nice passing play going, but comes in just offside.
[0:00] Honestly, pretty disgusting period for the Leafs. Ottawa firmly deserves to be in front, and the Leafs have had no answer for their compression of the neutral zone. Hopefully, things change as the game progresses.
The heatmap tells a very true, and very sad story here.
Toronto needs to be better.
[20:00] Alright, c’mon Leafs. A little better this period, please.
[18:21] Leafs with the early territorial advantage in the period, but nothing coming close to troubling Anderson.
[17:55] Lots of whistles early. Slow start to the second.
[17:05] Jesus, Martin just had the slowest turn in league history. In the process, he got his pocket picked by the corpse of Alex Burrows.
[15:35] The refs miss a too-many-men call on the Senators as they had a clumsy line change. Still no real chances for the Leafs.
[14:23] Finally some back and forth action. Mark Stone steals it off Carrick and nearly sets up Ryan on a 2-on-1, but the puck hops over his blade. Ryan later makes a power move to the net and nearly bowls over Andersen, but can’t keep hold of the buck. Going the other way, Borgman launches a shot with everything on it, but Anderson kicks it away.
[13:44] Honestly, this is masterful from Ottawa. The Leafs have done NOTHING offensively.
[11:42] I feel like I’m writing less on this recap than usual, and that’s because nothing is happening.
[11:10] The Leafs cannot get into Ottawa’s zone at all. And when they do, all they can do is take a shot from the flank.
[10:55] And again. The Leafs are probably not beating Anderson if they’re only taking shots outside the dot.
[9:43] Toronto finally gets a shot inside the dots from Brown.... and it’s blocked. That kind of night. The Sens are doing what they do best.
[8:00] I’m gonna put on my homer hat here. A team that plays the way the Senators are playing shouldn’t be rewarded. This is dire. OK, homer hat off. Back to praising the Sens for imposing their game plan.
[7:17] Another strong shift from the Matthews group, and Hyman gets a chance to poke it home from in front. Anderson covers it though.
[5:40] Welp, that might be the game. An Erik Karlsson point shot is tipped by Ryan Dzingel, and Freddie has no chance. 2-0 Senators.
[4:40] How do the Sens ever lose? They’ve not given up a single quality shot today. This is honestly remarkable.
[4:40] This goes from bad to worse. The Leafs take a faceoff infraction penalty, and Ottawa can really kill the game here.
[3:18] Andersen makes a great save on Mark Stone, and theoretically keeps the Leafs in this.
[1:29] In the wake of the kill, the Leafs go full power. Marner - Matthews - Nylander - Gardiner - Rielly. Predictably, they create a lot of chances. No goals though.
[0:12] Ok, thats definitely game now. A clever bank pass (guess who made it) finds Bobby Ryan in space. He makes a great dish to Derrick Brassard, who makes no mistake, finishing on Andersen. 3-0 Senators.
[18:36] Marner starts the period on a unit with Kadri and Marleau. I think this period is more of a learning time for the Leafs. They’re not scoring 3 on the Sens in this period. But hopefully they can get some offense going and figure out how to counter this stifling neutral zone tactic.
[17:07] The Matthews line is starting to get some stuff going. Babcock double shifts them early, and Matthews gets two chances on the doorstep. Still nothing doing.
[16:40] By the way, Hoffman has probably been the best player on either team, to my eye.
[16:13] Bobby Ryan is out - looks like he hurt something in his hand blocking a shot. The Sens are injured like mad already, so that’s not good news for them.
[15:13] The Sens have nothing offensively right now, but they’re up three. They don’t need to.
[14:00] Ok, ok. That’s how it starts! JVR gets a tip from a Hainsey point shot, and the Leafs have a little bit of life. 3-1 Ottawa.
[13:23] The Matthews line continues to get chances. Nylander sets up Hyman in front, but it’s prison rules and he can’t get enough on the shot.
[13:10] Ohhh, what a save by Anderson. Brown finds Bozak beautifully cutting backdoor, but he can’t get it by the Sens goalie. Bozak didn’t elevate it enough.
[12:54] The Leafs are pouring it on now, but it might be too little too late.
[11:26] THERE’S TWO! And who else but Auston! 3-2 Ottawa. Matthews to Nylander to Matthews, he walks in and slides it five-hole.
[11:26] All the momentum for the Leafs now. 11 minutes to get another.
[11:19] Ohh no! Immediately off the faceoff, Mark Stone somehow gets a breakaway. Andersen saves the first, but not the second. 4-2 Ottawa.
[11:15] Couple things. What the fuck was Zaitsev thinking there? And how are the announcers crediting Boucher for calling a timeout here? That was a bad play by Zaitsev and a great play by Stone.
[10:57] 11 minutes to get two again.
[9:49] Couple brutal turnovers from Borgman. Hoffman’s reading him like a book.
[8:44] The Senators have their best sustained shift of the period off an icing. The Leafs survive it, barely.
[8:04] Komarov draws a penalty. Big, big power play chance for the Leafs to get this back to one.
[7:09] Back to one again! And this time it’s Willie. His trademark wrister gets the job done. 4-3 Senators. That was the perfect shot. 14 inches, blocker side. Not stopping it.
[6:55] The Leafs have hope one again. Of course, it’s Matthews and Nylander who’ve provided it.
[6:46] The Leafs nearly capitulate again! Rielly turns it over to Pyatt, but Andersen stops him on a partial break. Andersen has been solid tonight.
[4:12] Sorry for the lack of updates. Heart in mouth. Andersen just stopped a 2-on-1.
[4:11] By the way, the fourth line basically has not played in this third period. Marner hasn’t been too noticeable on Kadri’s line.
[3:37] Until then! The Sens turn the puck over unenforced to him in front, but Anderson saves it.
[3:30] Another flip pass from the Sens somehow creates a 2-on-1 from nothing, and Derrick Brassard roofs it. 5-3. That’s the game. Like the Nylander shot... you don’t save those.
[3:15] Game effort by the Leafs, who finally figured out how to break down that Sens press (or maybe they just retreated). But too little, too late, as it turns out.
[2:30] Leafs pull Andersen early. You have to. No reason to not do it.
[1:39] Stone seals it with the empty netter. 6-3 Senators.
[0:00] Game over. The Leafs were putrid in the early going, and the Sens took a deserved lead. They finally came alive in the third, and came quite close to pulling it off. Unfortunately, they left it too late, and a few key defensive lapses made the difference. Zaitsev had a horrible game, maybe his worst of the year. The fourth line got totalled throughout their time on ice, and the Leafs were noticeably better when they stopped icing them. Kadri’s group was ineffective as well. The real stars were Nylander and Matthews, as they always are.
For the Sens, Hoffman, Stone, and Brassard are the impressive ones - no surprise. They’re Ottawa’s best forwards. Karlsson had a quiet night and still got 3 assists, which tells you everything you need to know about him. And Anderson was good enough for long enough. The Sens are not nearly as talented as the Leafs, but they’ve still lost only once in regulation, and are annoying and stifling enough to play with anyone. We’ll see how the rest of the season shakes out.