The Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Ottawa Senators 3-1, bouncing back from Thursday’s loss in Ottawa. Toronto outshot Ottawa 29-21 in what was a mostly sound defensive effort.
The Maple Leafs controlled play for much of the game, but the Senators were hanging around until Michael Bunting gave the Maple Leafs some breathing room with a goal at 7:57 of the third period. It might be too early to pass judgement on Bunting’s overall effectiveness, but he has brought a feisty game to the Maple Leafs, an element that should help him carve out a role for this team.
Senators right winger Drake Batherson appeared to tie the game with 8.3 seconds remaining in the second period but, after a coach’s challenge, he was ruled offside on the zone entry (by the slimmest of margins), and it preserved Toronto’s 2-1 lead at the time.
Alexander Kerfoot, who set up Bunting for his goal, paced the Maple Leafs attack with a goal and an assist. Kerfoot scored the Maple Leafs’ second goal, keeping the puck in at the Senators blueline to create the opportunity in the first place. Kerfoot then went to the slot and received a slick backhand feed from William Nylander.
Toronto’s first goal was scored by Wayne Simmonds, as the veteran winger was positioned at the top of the crease and re-directed a Rasmus Sandin pass just 2:12 into the first period. For a Toronto Maple Leafs team that had been bemoaning its slow starts in the first two games, scoring so quickly helped ease that concern.
Defenceman Timothy Liljegren stepped into the Maple Leafs lineup, in place of Justin Holl, who was sick. Liljegren was adequate but did not make a strong case for a regular spot.
Senators tried to stay close
Anton Forsberg had another strong game in net for Ottawa, not to the level of his performance on Thursday when he stopped 46 of 48 shots, but he did stop 27 of 30 shots, including some dangerous Maple Leafs chances. He robbed John Tavares in tight a couple of times and turned aside a Mitch Marner breakaway early in the third period.
Ottawa’s only goal came from centre Josh Norris who showed some patience and found an opening between the pads of a falling Campbell at 17:42 of the second period.
Senators sophomore left winger Tim Stutzle was dangerous once again, creating opportunities with his speed. He is not a finished product yet but in back-to-back games against the Maple Leafs he has tantalized with his talent.
Veteran Senators – and former Maple Leafs – winger Tyler Ennis had some creative moments in the offensive zone as well.
Ottawa’s defence pairing of Victor Mete and Nikita Zaitsev was on the ice for all three Maple Leafs goals and Zaitsev had tough possession numbers (32.3 CF%, 24.8 xGF%).
Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell stopped 20 of 21 Senators shots in the game and he has now stopped 60 of 62 shots in three appearances this season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are 2-1 through three games and return to action Monday, with a home game against the New York Rangers.
More analysis and quotes from media availability coming to ToHN shortly.
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