WHY THE SENATORS LOST
The Leafs didn’t panic despite blowing a 2-0 lead. Toronto entered this game with its playoff hopes hanging by a thread and needing a win at all costs. They got it thanks to Tyler Bozak, who scored the game-winner five minutes into the third period. It might not matter anyways. Two teams the Leafs are chasing, Buffalo and Carolina, both picked up points in their Saturday night contests.
Phil Kessel, Leafs
The Leafs’ best player was their best player. Kessel opened the scoring in the first period with his 30th goal and buzzed around the Ottawa zone all night. The goal also set a new career high in points for Kessel, who now has 61 on the season.
Filip Kuba, Senators
You know that sound a slot machine makes when you hit the jackpot? That’s what the Leafs heard every time Kuba was on the ice. He looked particularly silly on Kessel’s goal, turning the wrong way and letting the Toronto sniper blow right by him. This might have been his worst night in a season full of terrible nights.
It appeared the Senators were going to sleepwalk through this entire game, but a Jason Spezza goal with 54 seconds left in the second period made for a fun third. The rangy centre beat James Reimer with a nifty shot just inside the post on a breakaway, then tied things up 2-2 after the intermission. The Leafs finally did finally pull away, but at least there was some intrigue.
- 6: Wins in the last seven games for Toronto.
- 2: Wins for James Reimer in the capital this season.
- 1: Career NHL point for Andre Benoit, after getting an assist on Spezza’s second goal.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
It was a quiet NHL debut for the Senators’ free agent Frenchman, Stephane Da Costa. The Merrimack College standout and Paris native, who inked a two-year deal with Ottawa on Thursday, displayed some soft hands under pressure and even managed to ding the iron in the third period. He wound up a minus-one with one shot in 11:22 of ice time.
If these two teams are ever competitive at the same time again, the Jason Spezza vs. Dion Phaneuf rivalry will be one to watch. Spezza was clearly displeased with Phaneuf’s physical play in the first period, and he took a few runs at the Toronto captain to get his message across. There’s a history here: Spezza and the then-Calgary Flame Phaneuf dropped the gloves back in March 2009 after the big defenceman crushed then-Senator Dany Heatley with a blindside hit to the head. Kudos to Spezza for sticking up to Phaneuf again, though it’s probably a good idea they didn’t fight. It was a pretty clear win for No. 3 last time out.