The Toronto Maple Leafs limp into the league mandated break as they lose their fifth game in their past seven in yet another late game breakdown to the Ottawa Senators.
The Leafs were clearly the better team all evening but ran into a hot goaltender in Craig Anderson. Clearly, he saw what I wrote about him prior to the game and wanted to prove me wrong. After both Anderson and Mike Condon each let in four goals on Tuesday, Head Coach Guy Boucher wanted one of his goalies to win the crease. Anderson clearly got the message and played spectacular making 45 saves and really was a huge factor in Ottawa’s surprising win.
Toronto controlled the play for majority of the game, led by Tyler Bozak’s line with JVR and Marner who was buzzing around the Sens net all game. Van Riemsdyk scored a pretty goal around the net, but what was most impressive was his 10 shots and 15 towards the goal. The other goal scorers were Andreas Borgman and Morgan Rielly who had arguably his best game until the end of the game. For the second straight game, Morgan Rielly was careless with the puck and his positioning. Monday, we saw him throw a doughnut up the ice which was picked off by Seth Jones on the tying goal. Last night, we saw Rielly trying to be aggressive in the play with an offensive zone pinch that the Sens broke away on three on one for the game winning goal. Overall the Leafs were the better team and deserved to win but self-inflicted wounds and mental lapses cost the Leafs the win.
After being pummelled by the Blackhawks 8-2 the night before, the Senators came out with a bit of jump. Ultimately the Leafs overtook the game but the Senators capitalized with a Thomas Chabot pass in front of the net that went off Roman Polak and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. For the Sens, they are hoping this is a turn of something to get back to their winning ways as this season has been a tire fire. Anderson played an integral part just like last season and it looks like some chemistry is starting to form in their new top six.
Performance of the Night:
Considering how I have already talked about how awesome Craig Anderson was last night, I will stay away from the consensus pick which would be the Ottawa goaltender. For me who stood out was Matt Duchene. The new Senator has been getting a lot of flak for how the team has slipped down the standings once the trade happened. However, hope is on its way as last night Matt Duchene looked like the player they hope to have received in the deal. Duchene was crafty with the puck, his passing was crisp and he was shifty in the offensive zone. He has six points in his last four games and has really developed a good chemistry with sharpshooter Mike Hoffman. Duchene had two assists, including making a play to bring Hainsey to him opening up the passing lane for Tom Pyatt who scored the game winner.
This game was choppy to start off with as the Leafs were just in control and really was entertaining beating up on the lesser opponent. Then Ottawa started scoring and the game got interesting as the Leafs were playing from behind. The ending was must watch with the late game theatrics, but I was expecting a little more or physicality than the 11 hits the Leafs accounted for and the 31 total in the game. 4/5 on the scale.