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Recap: Maple Leafs tested by Ottawa Senators, but Mitch Marner has the answer

The team on the back half of a back-to-back looked pretty tough to beat.

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

It’s time to play the Senators! Oddly enough, I haven’t been following their exploits this season. Tonight we have Michael Hutchinson vs Craig Anderson, and how has Anderson been... I know I should just look at his last five games, but I just cant help myself, and instead I’ll check out his whole season. Verdict: not great, better overall than Hutchinson, so this game is anyone’s guess for who has the better goalie.

The rest of the time the Senators are about as bad at defending as they are offending, which puts them on par with the Leafs for leaving the back door open and then being surprised when you get robbed.

Kasperi Kapanen is mysteriously scratched, Travis Dermott is out with an illness, and the lines tonight are:

First Period

Wheeee! Nylander breakaway early. LW must agree with him.

The crowd is soooo quiet, and the game is fine, normal start, some good Leafs plays. It’s eerie. The Leafs turn it over and Vlad Namestnikov comes roaring up to snatch it and there was a bit of a noise that turns to grumbles as the Leafs get hemmed in.

Oh, that woke us all up. Mitch Marner set the puck right on Rasmus Sandin’s tape right as Anthony Duclair was bearing down. He failed to score as Sandin made good on that mistake with some defending.

Alexander Kerfoot scoots back to pick up a really weird (even for him) Marincin pass that just went nowhere.

Oh, and the Leafs get done for too many men, as a third defender jumped out. Oops.

Things get even better, as John Tavares has left the bench. I sure hope everyone has the flu here, and no one is traded or hurt. Leafs PK has no trouble with the Sens PP, as we should expect. the Sens are okay at five-on-five, but nowhere else.

Ceci with a big booming point shot, which is the second of those (Barrie the other) on very few shots thus far.

Jason Spezza roars up the ice (really) outskates the defenders (really) and doesn’t quite get it past Anderson on two tries. When Jason Spezza blows your doors off, can a Frederik Gauthier hat trick be far behind?

Nylander is making a line with Kerfoot and Johnsson with Tavares still not on the bench. This all seems to be just enough adversity to get the Leafs going offensively, and they have an actual cycle.

Tavares is back on the bench, but this really does look like he’s feeling the need for a bucket.

Having said the Sens are at least okay at five-on-five, should the Leafs have to back up, back up, back up until they’re back behind their own net when breaking out? Because they are. And I don’t think they should be.

The Ottawa power play is not good, the Leafs again easily defend, and could likely be taking more risks looking for shorthanded chances.

Nikita Zaitsev also left the game after blocking a shot, but he’s their problem now, not ours.

Thoughts

Zzzzzzzz.

Leafs doubled up the Sens in Corsi, but had only 65% xG%, and for the exact same reason as the first period against the Stars. They are allowing a huge percentage of the shots against from right on the doorstep.

Second Period

Cute stuff to start the period:

And Spezza again with a chance wakes the room up again.

There were just three giveaways in a row so bad, I can’t even decide which team should blush harder. Maybe the one trying to make the playoffs.

Yeah, sure. Mark Borowiecki opens the scoring with... wait, did they say he’s leading the team in goals? No, whew. He leads all of their defenders.

1-0 Ottawa

Hutchinson doesn’t look like a genius on this one, and Anderson has been solid, so I think the best goalie crown might go to the visitors.

Wow, nice save. Marner loses the puck to a pickpocketing Pageau, and Brady Tkachuk ends up in on Hutchinson. The rebound bounced to Etobicoke, but you can’t have everything.

The Senators take a dumb penalty, and the Leafs get to try their power play, which could stand to be stellar here.

Yeah, baby. That’s the stuff. The second unit with Spezza, who waaaaants it, and that new guy on D team up for this one.

Tie Game!

I demand equal time for the second unit! (Because the first unit was not stellar.)

Sens take a very late, and maybe undeserved high-sticking penalty, which should give us some more second unit (the only unit that matters) in the third period. Nylander almost ruins that plan by scoring, but then the Leafs give it away, and we’re set up for the right guys to score after the break.

Thoughts

Ottawa is on a SEGABABA and yet they got better in that period, eroding the Leafs early all Corsi advantage down to 50-50. Leafs Expected Goals is worse at 39%. That’s not merely worse, that’s appalling.

I don’t expect the Leafs to be good defensively. Ever. And every story about keeping shots to the outside or trying to shut things down is bull. But Ottawa is one of the worst teams in the NHL in terms of forward talent. You can’t allow open access to your net when you’re playing the dregs of the league.

Leafs are so obviously faster and more skilled, however, that it feels like a matter of time before they blow it open.

Thomas Chabot is excellent.

Nylander and Kerfoot really seem to be on tonight. Not so sure about some others.

Third Period

The stupid first unit opens this period. They better not score and keep the second unit on the bench, and dammit, Nylander almost gets another.

The now actually stupid first unit lines up at the blueline and ends up offside on the world’s most static zone entry.

The good unit only gets a few seconds, which is no good. I demand fairness.

Hutchinson makes a good save, and yes we’re still at the point that’s remarkable. Leafs do not look to be blowing this game open any time soon.

Trevor Moore to Dmytro Timashov is the best high-speed chance in a while, which will keep them in this game late. Moore’s been noticeable tonight.

Chabot steals it off of Nylander’s stick and breaks up a breakaway. I think that’s what they call defending.

Okay, this game is getting annoying. Moore or Nylander, one of those two has to score.

There’s a very brief sighting of the Matthews line in the offensive zone, but nothing comes of it.

Nylander’s line get two posts, including one near miss where there is, mysteriously, no trailing forward of defender to pick up the rebound off of the Kerfoot/Nylander rush.

The Matthews line gets a lot of ice time for the last few minutes.

The team with two shots at the draft lottery is playing hard for a tie game. And they get it.

Thoughts

The Leafs took over the game in the last seven or eight minutes, but couldn’t end it. That portion of the game was the only time the Leafs looked dramatically better.

Overtime

Leafs steal the puck and then Barrie bobbles it, and then gives it away, and my god, can I have Sandin?

Holy cripes (as my mother used to say) now Barrie is going for interference. Weak call.

It’s an OT PP, which is never not fun. Except when it’s theirs not yours.

Hutchinson is solid, which is really rather pleasant. Oh, good job, he pops a rebound right out to centre.

Penalty killed.

Oh, ho! Marner gets dumped behind the net, and it’s now the Leafs on the PP for the rest of OT. That was not a weak call, and was a dumb thing to do from Mike Reilly.

Leafs go with four forwards: Marner, Tavares, Matthews, Nylander.

Yes! Marner playing back at the point, because he really is the right guy for that...

... makes like an Activated D and goes for the onetimer. And that’s a WIN!

Leafs Win