TORONTO — Empathy is in brief provide for a Toronto Maple Leafs crew that has crashed out of the primary spherical six consecutive occasions, however in reality, this yr’s crew has been the image of resiliency. Toronto has weathered damage after damage, main the NHL in man-games misplaced previous to Friday’s contest in opposition to the Ottawa Senators, however this recreation was barely totally different than the 49 previous to the most recent Battle of Ontario.
Auston Matthews didn’t take the morning skate and reporters rapidly realized why, because the Hart Trophy winner was dominated out for 3 weeks with a knee sprain. And with Matt Murray extensively presumed to be the starter, Ilya Samsonov unexpectedly was again between the pipes. William Nylander appeared to tag Murray through the warmups with a shot to the shoulder, however Nylander informed reporters post-game Murray mentioned he was alright. Sheldon Keefe confirmed that Murray was coping with an ailment that flared up, however didn’t get into specifics, solely informing reporters that it wasn’t the adductor damage that beforehand bothered him this season.
Toronto couldn’t climate the storm once more. After largely controlling the primary interval, the Maple Leafs failed to point out the resolve that has maybe outlined this yr’s group, and the Senators chipped, tumbled and rolled away to a 6-2 victory.
Right here’s what it’s essential to know from Maple Leafs-Senators:
1. Brady Tkachuk, Senators
Tkachuk led the cost for the Senators on Friday evening. He was one of the best participant on the ice, notching two objectives, 4 photographs, three hits and fully received below the Maple Leafs’ pores and skin. Ottawa’s captain scored his first purpose 23 seconds into the second body, then supplied his crew with an insurance coverage marker just below 4 minutes into the ultimate stanza — it rocketed out of the web so rapidly that play needed to be stopped.
For the opening half hour, this was anybody’s recreation — Toronto dominated the superior stats charts within the first interval — however Tkachuk went round and thru the Maple Leafs. Ottawa most likely didn’t deserve a three-goal win, however Tkachuk received one of the best of Toronto’s star-studded top-six on Friday night.
2. Claude Giroux, Senators
Giroux led all Senators with six photographs and scored a highlight-reel purpose to punctuate the victory for the Senators — extra on that under. He completed the sport with a glowing 83.5 % share of the anticipated objectives when on the ice at 5-on-5, per Pure Stat Trick, and he obtained the first help on Derick Brassard’s purpose –– which is missed as a result of Timothy Liljegren by accident banked Brassard’s shot into his personal internet. Giroux has been precisely the participant the Senators paid for this offseason and this was one in every of his higher video games of the yr. He performed a improbable defensive recreation and the Maple Leafs couldn’t comprise his relentless power. It was a stellar efficiency for the 35-year-old.
3. John Tavares, Maple Leafs
This area may’ve gone to Mitch Marner or Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle, but when there was one participant who always confirmed up for the Maple Leafs, it was Tavares. Tavares was always producing probabilities, made a degree of throwing his physique round to field out in entrance of the web, recorded six photographs, a game-high 5 hits and produced just below one particular person anticipated purpose in all conditions. Tavares had the first help on William Nylander’s purpose, taking a feed from Marner and whacking away at it earlier than the puck fell on to his linemate for the tap-in. It’s powerful to seek out too many positives from a tough evening for the Maple Leafs, however their captain wasn’t the rationale why they misplaced.
Off evening: Pontus Holmberg and Rasmus Sandin, Maple Leafs
Holmberg was given a golden alternative to impress in Matthews’ absence and, at the very least for one evening, he fumbled it. The 23-year-old was meant to be a bit participant for the Maple Leafs and had exceeded expectations up to now. Holmberg was positioned alongside Calle Jarnkrok and Nylander initially, but he took a careless double minor for high-sticking that was killed off, then took one other penalty that led to the person benefit when the Senators scored the go-ahead purpose.
He was given an opportunity to excel in prolonged minutes and uncharacteristically grew to become a legal responsibility for the Maple Leafs. We’ll should see if Keefe trusts him in opposition to more durable competitors once more.
“Six minutes of penalties is an excessive amount of,” Keefe mentioned tersely post-game.
Sandin performed his worst recreation of the season. Through the second interval, he took a foul angle to the puck, then received caught puck-watching as Drake Batherson walked in unimpeded to provide the Senators a 4-2 lead. He took a careless tripping penalty within the third interval, then received walked by Giroux minutes afterward Ottawa’s sixth purpose. He uncharacteristically flailed across the ice, he was on for 3 objectives and wasn’t efficient at suppressing probabilities. Sandin is rising into one of many Maple Leafs’ most strong defenders however he’ll wish to burn this tape.
Play of the sport:
Giroux punctuated an intensive victory with a completely nasty purpose the place he walked Sandin — does it depend as a stroll if Sandin was sliding to start with? Semantics apart, Giroux scored a highlight-reel purpose, making it look means too simple, ripping a picture-perfect toe drag round Sandin and previous Samsonov for his seventeenth purpose of the season to fully flush out any probability of a Maple Leafs comeback.
Misplay of the sport:
It was a merciless destiny for Liljegren, who was in good place, however after Holmberg took an ill-advised tripping penalty within the second interval with the sport tied at 2-2, Brassard tipped the puck in direction of the web. Liljegren’s try to swat it out of hurt’s means backfired proper into the web. Ottawa took a 3-2 lead and didn’t look again.
Stat of the evening:
This isn’t essentially an actual downside, however there’s sufficient proof to counsel the Maple Leafs present an inclination to play right down to their opponent’s high quality. Toronto managed play through the first interval then fully took its collective foot off the fuel.
Quote of the day:
Keefe on Murray’s damage that thrust Samsonov into an surprising beginning gig: “He’s been coping with one thing that flared up on him tonight and he wasn’t out there to play.”
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