The Toronto Maple Leafs have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2004, and the toughest part for Senators fans to swallow is that the did it on Scotiabank Place ice. James Reimer made 49 saves in holding the Senators to 1 goal, while Toronto scored twice in the second and twice again in the third on Craig Anderson to take the game and the season series 4-1. Senators fans will be happy if they don’t face the Leafs again anytime soon, as Blue seems to be the Senators’ kryptonite.
First big event was Matt Kassian – Fraser McLaren and the headbutt heard around Ontario. With McLaren being soundly beaten the Leafs enforcer resorted to an attempted hair-pull and at least 3 battering-ram headbutts to try to turn the tide. Toronto had a goal called back after the fact because Leo Komarov had bumped goalie Craig Anderson moments before the puck went in. Erik Condra had a golden chance in front, but was unable to lift the puck over Reimer’s pad. Ottawa dominated on the shot clock and had the Leafs on their heels, but despite outshooting the Leafs 18-5, the teams went to their respective rooms knotted at 0.
After a end to end start to the second period, a shot from Cody Franson deflected off James van Riemsdyk and bounced past Anderson to give the Leafs the lead. A brief scare arose as Daniel Alfredsson went to the dressing room with the trainer and the doctor, but returned shortly thereafter. A high sticking penalty to Zack Smith on Colton Orr proved costly as van Riemsdyk counted again knocking in a loose puck after Marc Methot blocked a Phil Kessel shot. Just when it looked like Ottawa wold be down 2-0 after 40 minutes, a turnover in the Toronto zone ended up on the stick of Jakob Silfverberg, whose quick release beat Reimer from the top of the circle, with just 43 seconds left in the period.
The first half of the third was very uneventful, and it took almost 12 minutes to really get going. After a flurry of chances for the Senators were denied, Nazem Kadri beat Anderson with a soft shot that somehow slipped through the goalie’s legs to restore Toronto’s 2 goal lead. Ottawa got a late power play after Phil Kessel slashed Chris Neil, but they could not get closer. Then a bobble at the Toronto blue line by Sergei Gonchar allowed Joffrey Lupul to break in alone, beating Anderson. The Ottawa goalie got some of it, but not enough to keep it out, and with less than 2 minutes remaining, it was over. The
- It has been a rare occasion this season that Anderson has allowed a weak goal, but Kadri’s third period marker was a back-breaker and one that he should have had. I don’t want to over-hype the impact of it, but that single goal might just cost him whatever chance he had to win the Vezina….a backbreaking goal on National Television, with not a ton of support for giving the award to a player who played just half of their team’s games.
- This tweet from the TEAM1200’s A.J. Jakubec pretty much says it all:
Sens haven’t been out-goaltended very often this season. This is one of those nights. Dominating the Leafs despite the score. #Sens
— AJ Jakubec (@AJonSports) April 21, 2013
- Ottawa needs a combination of their points and Winnipeg missed points to equal 4 in order to clinch a playoff spot, so it is still not time to panic.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jakob Silfverberg had the Ottawa goal, and could have had a couple more. He led all Ottawa forwards with 5 shots on goal.
Ottawa will regroup for another tough game, when the Penguins come to town to face the Senators on Monday night.