Ottawa Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg stopped a career-high 46 shots as the Sens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Thursday. Forsberg was rock solid in the Sens net, holding off Toronto’s furious third period rally.
The Maple Leafs fell behind 3-0 in the first period on a series of unfortunate events.
THE WAY THE PUCK BOUNCES
The Senators opened the scoring with a goal off the skate of Chris Tierney at 8:31 of the first period. Maple Leafs winger Pierre Engvall turned the puck over with an ill-advised cross-ice pass on the breakout attempt.
Ottawa had quite a few scoring chances throughout the first period, but Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek came up with a handful of big saves to keep the game close. Then, at 18:58 of the first period, a power play point shot from Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot deflected off Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl. The puck then hit Senators winger Tyler Ennis in the arm on its way into the net.
Two Senators goals, neither one of them coming from a stick.
The Sens were not done, though. With the clock winding down in the first period Senators defenseman Victor Mete made an attempt just to keep the puck in the offensive zone but it deflected off the skate of Leafs winger Nick Ritchie. The ricochet went straight to Senators winger Alex Formenton, who one-timed it into the net with just 1.4 seconds left on the clock. A crushing time for the Maple Leafs to surrender another goal.
There was no scoring in the second period, but the Maple Leafs wilted in the second half of the period. Senators sophomore winger Tim Stutzle was notably dangerous in the middle frame, creating multiple scoring chances with his speed.
Petr Mrazek stretched to make the save on Ottawa’s final shot of the period and he appeared to suffer a lower-body injury. Mrazek could not come out for the third period, so Jack Campbell, who was excellent the night before against Montreal, took over in the Toronto net. The Maple Leafs dominated play early in the final frame, outshooting the Senators 12-0 in the first five minutes of the period.
At 3:11 of the third, Jason Spezza put Toronto on the board, with a power play goal. Spezza’s rocket shot to the top corner beat Anton Forsberg over the glove. Ottawa took a penalty on the play, as defenseman Josh Brown cross-checked Maple Leafs centre John Tavares. That ensuing power play did not last long. Maple Leafs winger Pierre Engvall got called for hooking in his effort to prevent Ottawa’s shorthanded scoring attempt.
Toronto cut the lead to one at 8:50 of the third period, as Spezza set up William Nylander for Toronto’s second power play goal of the game.
Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, they could not get anything else past Forsberg, who had 46 saves while starting in place of Matt Murray. Morgan Rielly snapped a point-blank opportunity in the last five seconds of the third period high over the net.
Jason Spezza and William Nylander both produced a goal and an assist for Toronto. Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Michael Bunting each generated six shots on goal to lead the Maple Leafs. Former Maple Leafs winger Tyler Ennis picked up a goal and an assist for Ottawa.
There were bad bounces involved but the Maple Leafs defense pairing of Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl was on the ice for all three Senators goals.
Ultimately, the Maple Leafs were unlucky and careless early in the game. It burned them because the Senators got an outstanding goaltending performance from Anton Forsberg. Forsberg was claimed three times on waivers and has played just 11 NHL games in the past two seasons.
In addition to the win over their provincial rivals, the Senators signed winger Brady Tkachuk to a seven-year, $57.5 million contract earlier in the day, so it was a good day for Ottawa. Tkachuk showed up at the Canadian Tire Centre, to the delight of the Sens faithful.
These teams meet against Saturday, as the Senators visit Toronto.
ToHN will have more analysis and comments from media availability shortly.
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