The Toronto Maple Leafs came into game three of the 2021 season sporting an overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens and a two goal loss to the Ottawa Senators. Tonight was the second game of a back to back in the nations capital. It featured the regular season debut of highly touted prospect Nick Robertson, as well as the goaltending duo of Jack Campbell and Aaron Dell, giving Frederik Andersen the night off after two shaky starts.
Speaking of shaky starts, we get an offside call seconds into the game. It’s not that bad jsut silly. The first few minutes are a lot of back and forth, board play, scrums, but no shots or attempts. The Leafs start to get frisky in the offensive zone approaching the three minute mark; Zach Bogosian breaks his stick on a blue line shot attempt, William Nylander tries to put the puck through the side mesh. Jack Campbell gets tested quickly afterwards, and we get some nice safe play up and down the ice until Erik Gudbranson blocks a shot and the puck gets lots in his pants.
Mitch Marner receives a pass close to the net, but dangles one too many times before taking his shot and it’s easily stolen by Thomas Chabot.
Marner off the turnover makes one too many dekes pic.twitter.com/NFVK97nmov— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021
Marner tries to retrieve the puck, but trips Chabot and gets called for it. Should he have though? That’s questionable. The Senators run a smooth power play but the Leafs are able to get in the way, block some passes, and when the Senators do get through Jack Campbell makes the save to kill off the penalty.
The game continues. Neither team is particularly putting pressure on the other, nor are they doing anything spectacular. Thankfully it’s not completely frustrating, though that’s probably because the game is tied. Auston Matthews and Nick Robertson get some good shots on net, but Matt Murray knocks them away.
Defence to Offence— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021
Rielly to Matthews pic.twitter.com/fVwEUycYLq
Joe Thornton just completely falls over and slides down the ice. Forget goals, or fights, that is my favourite part of hockey.
Justin Holl easily strips Evgeni Dadanov of the puck, preventing him from getting his first as a Senator. HOWEVER the Senators regroup and Nikita Zaitsev shoots from the blue line, it hits Nick Paul in the midsection, which redirects the puck past Jack Campbell and into the Maple Leafs net. 1-0 Ottawa.
Pressure comes from the Maple Leafs in response to this goal. The puck is cleared up ice from the Leafs zone by TJ Brodie, Mitch Marner skates it in, drop passes to Joe Thornton and Jumbo scores his first to tie the game!
Goal scored by #97 Joe Thornton. Assist, to a player who was less than 2 months old when Thornton was drafted, Mitch Marner.— Rob Pizzo (@robpizzo) January 17, 2021
The period ends tied at one each. The Senators are playing like a team who have been together for three years, not coming out of the bottom of a rebuild, where as the Leafs have forgotten how to defend and pick their spots for shooting the puck (the spots should be closer to the net).
After four periods of hockey against the Senators, I really feel like I underestimated them. Hopefully the Leafs get their things together for a more cohesive and solid second period.
They’ll be doing it without Nick Robertson though, as he’s out with a knee injury after Drake Batherson mashed him into the boards.
Nick Robertson is done for the night after this collision pic.twitter.com/LOnVJGLgeE— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021
The Maple Leafs got revenge though, as Mitch Marner quickly scores on Matt Murry to open the second period.
The Senators get a chance to tie the game as John Tavares gets called for hooking, but the Senators can’t get a good chance, and Jack Campbell makes the necessary saves, and the penalty is killed.
Thomas Chabot gets the Senators their first penalty when he slashes John Tavares on the hand - the hand he needs to shoot pucks too! The Senators do a good job killing this penalty until Paquette makes a hand pass off a face off to give the Leafs 12 seconds of a five on three. They don’t score on the five on three, Chabot comes back to defence, but the Leafs are playing around in the offensive zone until a puck deflects out and down the ice.
The Leafs power play has a great sequence that sees Tavares, Matthews, and Rielly have great chances but nothing gets past Murray. On the plus side they got seven shots off on that power play. Great work, even if it didn’t go as planned.
Another wicked keep at the point by Rielly pic.twitter.com/Ep2zxrPyux— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021
Going back and forth with the penalties, Ilya Mikheyev is careless with his stick and gets it up high on Chabot. The Leafs keep the power play at bay for 40 seconds until Marner is called for puck over the glass.
When you broke the TV and your parents ask you "Who broke the TV?" pic.twitter.com/QsPtYMmQ5A— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021
The Senators waste their two man advantage without getting a proper shot off - not surprising as they only had 10 shots up until the power play - and the Leafs kill Marner’s penalty as well, keeping the Senators from scoring or getting a shot.
Auston Matthews comes close to the five hole, but Murray closes his legs in time. The Senators get a couple weak shots, the Leafs continue to control the puck though, and the second period will end with the score 2-1 and shots 28-12 for the Leafs.
Also, this is how the period ended. Okay, I guess?
The third period starts with the Leafs getting two quick shots on net and Alex Kerfoot drawing a hooking penalty from Josh Brown, so they get their third power play of the night early on in the third.
The first unit clicks on this one and Auston Matthews gets a shot from the top of the circle past Murray for his first goal of the season:
The Senators finally get their first shot on goal - five minutes into the period - and it’s stopped by Campbell (shots are 35-13 now for Toronto). The Maple Leafs are up by two, and are spending the third period clogging the neutral zone, and protecting the lead. The Senators are barely getting any possession time, and even less offensive zone time. The Maple Leafs are showing up for real now.
Brady Tkachuk tries to get under Matthews skin, but now that he’s scored Auston is afraid of no one.
The Senators manage to get a second goal past Jack Campbell, and it’s a big one for them as Tim Stützle gets the first NHL goal of his career. 3-2 Maple Leafs.
The Senators have a chance to build off the momentum of that goal as Zach Hyman is called for high sticking as Thomas Chabot shows off his acting skills.
This powerplay is a bit better for the Senators, but Jack Campbell still won’t let them have a goal on the man advantage.
Huge save by Jack Campbell on the penalty kill pic.twitter.com/XVUBg7dq7K— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) January 17, 2021
The Senators are pushing hard to tie the game, playing the Leafs more until Stützle gets called for tripping Jake Muzzin, giving the Leafs a late powerplay and the chance to put the game away. They don’t, as the Senators kill off the penalty without any scares from the Leafs. Drake Batherson shoots on Campbell, how kick saves the puck, but the Leafs can’t clear after that and there’s a minute long scramble in front of the Leafs net as the Senators try to score before the game ends.
The first regulation win of the season for the Maple Leafs, outshooting the Senators 40-19. It started badly, but ended well. The Leafs ran the game in an unexciting way, got the win and now flee Ottawa for the comforts of home.
Game four is Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets*, 7:00PM on TVA Sports and Sportsnet Ontario.