Offence still missing in action as Leafs lock down Senators

If the first game without Erik Karlsson is any indication, the rest of the schedule isn’t going to be a picnic for the Ottawa Senators.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson (left) makes a save as Sergei Gonchar (centre) bumps Toronto Maple Leafs' Nikolai Kulemin during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, February 16, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO, Ont. — If the first game without Erik Karlsson is any indication, the rest of the schedule isn’t going to be a picnic for the Ottawa Senators.

With their Norris Trophy-winning defenceman sidelined for the balance of the season following surgery to repair a lacerated Achilles tendon, the punchless Senators dropped a 3-0 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre Saturday night.

It was their third time being shut out this season and the third time they were victimized by another team’s backup goalie.

Toronto’s Ben Scrivens made 34 saves to blank Ottawa, a feat already achieved by Winnipeg’s Al Montoya last Saturday and Carolina’s Dan Ellis on Feb. 1.

Missing Karlsson was only part of the problem for the Senators — the team has been struggling to score since losing top centre Jason Spezza to back surgery in late January. Throw in Milan Michalek’s twisted knee and a handful of other injuries to depth players and the result was about what you’d expect.

Ottawa generated a few scoring chances against a mediocre Leafs squad, but the ones they did come up with were quickly turned aside. The power play, meanwhile, is now on an 0-for-22 run thanks to four more unsuccessful attempts.

On the other side, Leafs grinder Frazer McLaren opened the scoring at 3:14 of the first period, Tyler Bozak used his skate to redirect a Dion Phaneuf pass at 8:32 of the third and John-Michael Liles rainbowed a shot into an open net to round out the scoring.

Scrivens, filling in for injured started James Reimer, picked up the first shutout of his NHL career.

Anderson, meanwhile, was up to his old tricks in the Ottawa crease. He stopped 25 of 27 shots in another frustrating loss.

Anderson had extra incentive to play well Saturday, what with former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke in the building scouting for USA Hockey. Anderson continued to make a strong case for himself should the NHL decide to participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

He figures to have plenty more work in the near future as the Senators limp through a rash of injuries.

They’ve been forced to plug holes with call-ups from Binghamton, promoting defenceman Eric Gryba and forwards Dave Dziurzynski and Derek Grant for this contest.

Four minutes into the game, all three of them were sporting a minus-one rating.

Toronto’s fourth line opened the scoring against Ottawa’s fourth when Leafs defenceman Mark Fraser threw a puck high at the net from the point. McLaren, wreaking havoc in front of Anderson, managed to tip the puck straight down into the net for his first goal with the team.

It wasn’t the start the Bingo boys were hoping for, but to their credit, they settled down afterwards and survived a couple shifts against the Leafs’ No. 1 line before the period was through.

The second period wasn’t much better for the team as a whole. Although they took 19 shots in the frame, they weren’t able to break though. Outside of a couple nice saves by Anderson, the highlight was a three-on-one break that ended with Andre Benoit firing the puck over the net from the slot.

It’s just been that kind of week for the Ottawa Senators.

What now?

GAME FILE

CHEERS

Ben Scrivens, Maple Leafs

A shutout’s a shutout, even against a team struggling as badly as the Senators.

JEERS

Eric Gryba, Senators

Tough to pick on a guy playing his first NHL game, but the Senators need some unlikely heroes right now. He gave the puck away twice prior to the first Leafs goal and finished a minus-two.

WHY THEY LOST

They were forced to ice a glorified AHL lineup on the road against an NHL opponent that was committed to solid team defence for most of the game.

GLORY DAYS

The Leafs took the pre-game skate wearing the jersey numbers of members of the Stanley Cup-winning 1963 edition of the team and then watched as all-time greats like Dave Keon and Johnny Bower were ferried onto the ice for the ceremonial puck drop. And even then, ACC fans couldn’t resist booing Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson when he lined up for the faceoff.

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