The Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs resumed their rivalry on a night with plenty on the line. A significant game for both teams, it was a four-point night as they battle for final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Nazem Kadri led the Maple Leafs’ offence while Curtis McElhinney stood out in his debut with the team. The Leafs now sit third in the division and in the playoffs, while the Senators are now on the outside looking in.
The game began with a high level of pace, yet both teams maintained solid structure. Although both teams worked to get their scoring chances, they also did well in protecting the middle of their zones.
The Maple Leafs’ power-play scored the first goal of the game through a basic, yet effective plan. Putting the puck on the net and the forwards crashing towards it allowed Kadri to poke the puck through Mike Condon’s legs.
The Senators worked hard to tie the game up as they got a good chance soon after. Kyle Turris delivered a quick pass onto Ryan Dzingel’s stick that deflected the puck on net. McElhinney shot out his right leg to stop the deflection and stretched out to cover the puck.
Mark Stone did what he does best, as a couple of times he took the puck away from a Leafs player, converting those steals into good shots on goal.
The Leafs had the possession advantage late in the period, but Ottawa stayed strong positionally to prevent most of their shots from making it through.
Toronto continued playing with the momentum; they were the team to spend more time on offence to start the second. Tyler Bozak took advantage of a Senators’ turnover when Bobby Ryan’s pass bounced off Mitch Marner. Bozak took the loose puck and shot it cleanly through Condon to extend the lead 2-0.
Dion Phaneuf struck against his former team, as his point shot was going wide, but it deflected off Jake Gardiner and past McElhinney. The Senators were rewarded for their strong faceoff performance on the night, as they won 73% of them at that point.
That goal gave the Senators a spring in their step, but the Leafs were able to keep up. A pass by Ryan would find Dzingel in the slot, but a quick reaction by McElhinney sliding across the crease stopped the one-time shot.
Kyle Turris found an opening through McElhinney from a sharp angle, and he shot the puck top corner short side to tie the game 2-2.
Kadri put the Leafs back in the lead as he fought for the puck against two Senators defenders in front. Kadri slapped the puck past them and over Condon’s shoulder.
Mike Hoffman got a great chance on the power-play as he stationed himself in his usual scoring area. McElhinney made his best save of the night, sliding across his net to stop the one-time shot in tight.
Erik Karlsson also came close to tying the game, as his simple wrist shot from the point made it through bodies in front. The puck bounced off the inside of the crossbar and came cleanly out. The Leafs made that attempt costly, as Matthews won the faceoff to himself and made a pass to Connor Brown who shot it past Condon to make the game 4-2.
The Senators pushed hard to find some offence, but the Maple Leafs were strong in keeping the opposition to the outside.
TOR – Nazem Kadri (17) PPG assisted by James van Riemsdyk (20) & Tyler Bozak (18)
TOR – Tyler Bozak (10) assisted by Mitch Marner (25)
OTT – Dion Phaneuf (6) assisted by Mike Hoffman (17) & Erik Karlsson (28)
OTT – Kyle Turris (15) assisted by Bobby Ryan (8) & Ryan Dzingel (13)
TOR – Nazem Kadri (18) assisted by William Nylander (19) & Matt Hunwick (10)
TOR – Connor Brown (11) assisted by Auston Matthews (16)
THW Three Stars
First: Nazem Kadri (2 goals)
Second: Curtis McElhinney (.946 SV%)
Third: Tyler Bozak (1 goal, 1 assist)
Ottawa Senators at St. Louis Blues
Scottrade Center – 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 17
Broadcast channels: FS-MW & TSN5
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres
Air Canada Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 17
Broadcast channels: SNO & MSG-B