WHY THE SENATORS WON
They overwhelmed Toronto’s defencemen with speed and strength. While the shot count was relatively close (29-28 for Toronto), the Senators had the bulk of the quality scoring chances Saturday night. Two of Ottawa’s goals started with glaring turnovers by Leafs under pressure, and all three incorporated sharp passing plays that left Bud defenders looking pretty hapless. A strong outing from a well-rested Brian Elliott sealed the deal.
Mike Fisher, Senators
The Ottawa centre has been slowed by a mystery injury over the past couple of weeks, but it didn’t show against the Leafs. He picked up an assist on Alex Kovalev’s power play goal in the first, then added two tallies of his own. The second was particularly impressive, considering the amount of interference he had to fight through in the neutral zone to get into position and finish a tic-tac-toe scoring play with linemates Kovalev and Milan Michalek.
Brett Lebda, Leafs
Dear Brett Lebda: If you’ve been benched in four straight games for turnovers and other assorted defensive mishaps, you’ll probably want to avoid them in your first game back. He didn’t. Lebda’s bad pinch at the Ottawa blue line led to a two-on-one the other way and an easy tap-in for Fisher.
If you had to boil it down to one play, that would have been it. Fisher’s second goal made the score 3-0 and pretty much erased any hope of a Toronto comeback. Really though, the game changer could have been “any time the line of Fisher, Kovalev and Michalek was on the ice.” The fact nobody else’s name appeared in the scoring summary demonstrates how dominant they were.
- 8: Games without a road win for the Leafs.
- 8: Points for the line of Fisher, Kovalev and Michalek.
- 29: Saves for Brian Elliott.
- 23: Blocked shots for Ottawa.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
There have been previous skirmishes in the Battle of Ontario — mostly when the Senators were basking in the afterglow of their Stanley Cup final run — when Ottawa fans outnumbered their Toronto counterparts by a fairly wide margin at home. Not so Saturday night. Scotiabank Place could easily have been mistaken for the Air Canada Centre prior to the game, what with the booming “Go Leafs Go” chants and blue sweaters saturating the crowd. As the Senators pulled ahead on the ice, however, their fans found their voices.
Brian Elliott’s second shutout of the season should make for an interesting morning skate Monday. The question, as usual: Who is No. 1? Pascal Leclaire was spectacular in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh, but a lack of run support helped drop his record to 1-5-1. Elliott looked like his old self again after a few days’ rest, leaving coach Cory Clouston with a tough call to make.