Toronto Maple Leafs drop second in a row to Ottawa Senators

Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images /

The Battle for Ontario tilted to Canada’s capital on Wednesday as the Ottawa Senators took down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3

The Toronto Maple Leafs came into Wednesday’s game against the Ottawa Senators hoping to get a win and make their bye week more enjoyable. Instead, they’ll be asking how they didn’t emerge with a win, as the Leafs lost 4-3. Despite making comebacks from 2-0 and 3-2, Toronto’s final mistake was costly, as it led to a game-winning goal by Tom Pyatt.

Ottawa withstood a third-period onslaught against their division rivals, as Toronto controlled the puck for most of the game. The Senators controlled the scoreboard though, jumping out to an early first-period lead as rookie defenseman Thomas Chabot opened things up.

The young blueliner skated the puck in down the left wing toward the goal line, bouncing it in off of Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen for the 1-0 lead. That goal came mid-way through the first period where Ottawa was outshot 16-12, while the shot attempts favored Toronto 36-17.

Ottawa’s lead grew to 2-0 on Mike Hoffman’s goal early in the second period. The Senators forward potted his 11th goal of the year on a beautiful assist from star trade acquisition Matt Duchene.

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Hoffman makes a killer outlet pass from the left wing in his own end, as Duchene receives it in the neutral zone. Colin White trails the latter, heading for the slot. White and Hoffman overlap, as Hoffman heads to post nearest Duchene.

Meanwhile, Duchene puts on a clinic in possession. He’s not particularly flashy, but uses his body to shield the puck well from Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner as he takes it along the boards toward the goal. At the last possible second, Duchene slides the puck to a waiting Hoffman, who buries it on Andersen.

Leafs mount comeback

Maple Leafs defenseman Andreas Borgman struck just before the second intermission to bring the score to 2-1. At that point a Toronto comeback felt inevitable: their possession numbers were through the roof, and they were playing relatively disciplined hockey.

It looked the Leafs would take control as they tied the game 2-2 early in the third period. James van Riemsdyk scored his 19th goal of the year. It was a stellar combination of skill and tenacity.

Toronto’s Mitch Marner grabs the outlet pass near the corner and cuts back toward the hashmark on the left wing. As he turns back, Marner dumps the puck off to Tyler Bozak, who plants the puck right on van Riemsdyk’s forehand as his back is turned to the net.

From there, van Riemsdyk tries to fake out Andersen, pulling the puck back between his legs and laying a shot on net. Andersen gamely stands his ground, but lets up a rebound and van Riemsdyk stays with it to net the goal.

Toronto comes up short

The Senators responded with a Gabriel Dumont goal just over a minute later, taking the lead again.  Morgan Rielly of the Maple Leafs knotted the game at 3 a piece, but Ottawa’s Tom Pyatt scored the game winner on another Duchene assist with 3:05 remaining in the third period.

The gaol was Pyatt’s first since November 24. Matt Duchene had his second multi-point game of the New Year, as his trade has yielded mixed results for Ottawa. While the Senators sit well out of the playoff picture, two points in the standings and contributions from a variety of players are always good developments.

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Following a head-scratching OT loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, the Maple Leafs dropped points again tonight. While they sit comfortably in a divisional playoff seed in the Atlantic Division, these are the results that could cost them home ice against another rival like the Boston Bruins.