Full marks to the Senators for not quitting in this one.
With the Leafs up 5-2, the Sens kept grinding away and were able to close the gap to one with a couple minutes to play. Ottawa had a couple chances to tie the game in the final minute but Reimer was able to hang on. Again, the effort level was good for the Sens but this was a rare night where goaltending was there undoing. Considering the way Anderson, Lehner and Bishop have played this season, I'd say they're entitled to a mulligan.
While the Battle of Ontario has been realtively tame in recent years, there was plenty of physical stuff early on.
In the first, David Dziurzynski squared off in his first NHL fight and it did not end well for the Saskatchewan native. Frazer McLaren caught him with a strong right hand that knocked the Senator out. Dziurzynski had to be helped off the ice and was not surprisingly diagnosed with a concussion. Only a couple minutes later, Chris Neil dropped the gloves with Colton Orr, with the Neil getting the decision.
It did little for the Sens though as they found themselves in a 2-0 hole before the game was 8 minutes old. Ottawa just didn't look ready to play to start this one. Terribly soft in their own end and outraced to pucks all over the ice. The Senators were not good enough in the opening 20.
Not much better to start the second either as James Van Riemsdyk scored just 1:20 in to stretch the Leafs lead to 3-0. Mika Zibanejad would reply for the Senators though as he buried a loose puck on a delayed penalty. The goal was Zibanejad's 5th of the season. The Senators controlled the play for the remainder of the period but could not get another one by Leafs starter James Reimer.
Zack Smith scored early in the third, his first goal in 37 games by the way, to give the Senators life but a power play goal by Phil Kessel quickly took the wind out of the visitors. Kadri would stretch the Leaf lead to three and from that point on it was all Senators.
The loss sucks but this is an effort that Sens fans can be proud. They refused to quit in the third period and were a bounce away from completing a miraculous comeback.
The Sens are off tomorrow and will travel to New York to take on the Rangers on Friday night.
- Some good news on the injury front prior to puck drop tonight as word is Jason Spezza has been cleared for increased physical activity. While the Sens did not set a date for his return just yet, GM Bryan Murray says he is about 2-3 weeks away. Great news for Ottawa.
- There are few things as Canadian as Stompin' Tom Connors. The Canadian legend passed away today at the age of 77. Stompin' Tom is best known for The Hockey Song, which is a tune just about every hockey fan can sign a line from. RIP Stompin' Tom.