It was a game of two halves, and the Ottawa Senators didn’t do as much in their half as the Toronto Maple Leafs did in theirs, an the final result was a disappointing 6-3 loss.
Ottawa got off to a solid start in the first 10 minutes before they got into penalty trouble. After killing off successive penalties to Cory Conacher, Chris Neil go the icebreaker in the final minute of the first, breaking over the blue line and putting a wrist shot past Morgan Rielly‘s legs and past Jonathan Bernier. Erik Karlsson took a penalty shortly after that that carried over to the second and put the Senators on their heels to start the new period.
The Senators successfully killed of that Leafs power play and after a Matt Kassian takedown of Frazer MacLaren in an uneventful fight, Neil played set-up man for Colin Greening, dishing a nice saucer pass on a 2 on 1 and Greening put it home to double the Senators lead. Then the midway point of the game came, and the Senator seemed to stop playing. The Senators’ failure to get it out of the zone after a faceoff win resulted in a perfect cross-crease pass from James van Riemsdyk to Phil Kessel for the tap-in. Then a minute and a half later, Nazem Kadri bowled over Cody Ceci from behind and then centered the puck to a wide-open Joffrey Lupul and just like that it was a 2-2 game, and that is how the second period ended.
Kessel got his second of the game and the Leafs finally capitalized on their 5th power play, taking a pass from Rielly and wiring a wrist shot past Anderson high glove-side from the slot. Neil tied the game less than 2 minutes later, while a goalmouth scramble led to Bernier knocking the puck in with his own legs when he was trying to close his pads. Nobody on the ice reacted as if it had gone in and it took a video review to call anyone’s attention to the fact that it did just cross the line. Kessel scored what would prove to be the game winner as Anderson lost track of the puck behind the net and was looking the wrong way after Eric Gryba‘s turnover. Tyler Bozak came out the other side and fed a wide open Kessel who tapped the puck past a bewildered Anderson for the hat trick goal. Kessel played set-up man for Bozak with a minute and a half left, finding his centerman wide open between the has marks for the two goal cushion. Kadri added the empty netter for a 6-3 win.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Obviously, there were a lot of negatives in this game, but the one positive was the play of Neil. His first goal was a nice shot, his pass to Greening for his assist would make Jason Spezza envious, and he capped it off with his second goal of the game. He was also +3 and had 3 hits.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- I will save my comments on the goaltending for later, but the Senators couldn’t get the puck out of their own end to save their lives, which led to turnovers and goals against.
- Kadri’s blatant hit from behind should have been called, and that was a game changer. If that hit gets called, whether a minor or a major,the Senators go to the power play with a two goal lead and who knows what happens from there. A blatant missed call by a referee who is supposed to be watching the puck and was looking in the opposite direction.
- Phil Kessel as a Maple Leafs has owned the Senators. Period.
Ottawa continues their 3 game road trip with a visit to the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night, the first half of back-to-back games.