A rare Friday night of Hockey Night in Canada, and it involved the battle of Ontario! The Leafs were coming off a highly entertaining 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday. While the Sens were coming off a 2-1 victory of their own against the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Coming into this one, Matt Murray was initially slated to be the starting goalie for the Leafs. However, Ilya Samsonov led the Leafs onto the ice as the teams came out for the National Anthem.
The Leafs announced this morning that they would be without their superstar, Auston Matthews, for a minimum of three weeks due to a knee sprain. The 25-year-old suffered the apparent injury against the Rangers on Wednesday night. While the Leafs have been surprisingly successful whenever the phenom is out of the lineup. That said, they will miss him immensely over the next three weeks.
The Leafs played on the flip side in this one as they were dawning their Bieber-designed jerseys. Some people aren’t fans of these jerseys, but I love them and wish they wore them far more often than they do. It didn’t take long for the hatred each team had for each other to boil over as Michael Bunting, and Brady Tkachuk got into a shoving match, resulting in coincidental minors and some four-on-four play. It would be in favor of the Sens as they managed to open the scoring on a goal from Thomas Chabot just 1:32 into the game. The Leafs let Chabot walk right in from the point, and he made no mistake ripping it past Samsonov. After the Sens took the lead, the Leafs really upped the pressure on them but credit to Anton Forsberg as he held his ground and shut the door. The Leafs would eventually break through as Joey Anderson received a pass from Alex Kerfoot at the top of the circle. He made no mistake, ripping it short-side past Forsberg for his second goal of the year at the 7:15 mark. Less than 20 seconds after tying it, the Leafs found themselves shorthanded as Pontus Holmberg got his stick up on Jake Sanderson, and as a result, he left a nasty cut on Sanderson’s ear. Because blood was drawn on the play, the penalty would be a double minor. Full credit to the aggressiveness of the Leafs penalty killers, as well as the timely saves by Samsonov as they managed to kill off the man advantage. With just 17 minutes remaining in the Holmberg double minor, the Sens were called for too many men resulting in more four-on-four play. It would eventually lead to 1:43 of power play time for the blue and white. A couple of great looks from the top unit, John Tavares and William Nylander in particular, but they were not able to beat Forsberg or the post. With less than five minutes to go in the period, the Leafs fourth line put together a fantastic shift that was spent in the Sens zone. A very close, entertaining, back-and-forth opening period would come to a close with the Leafs holding a 15-14 edge in shots on goal.
The Sens didn’t waste any time whatsoever as Brady Tkachuk tipped a Travis Hamonic point shot past Samsonov to give the Sens a 2-1 lead early in the second. Immediately following the go-ahead goal, the Sens went back to the attack, and they came ever so close to making it a 3-1 lead. Fortunately for the blue and white, the puck somehow stayed out of their net. Nikita Zaitsev was called for tripping Pontus Holmberg at 1:30, giving the Leafs their second power play. This time the top unit would make no mistake as William Nylander finished off a play right on the doorstep for his 27th goal of the year at 2:44. Marner made the pass down low to Tavares, who, as he often does, drove right to the net and Nylander was there to finish it off to tie the game up 2-2. A tough night for Pontus Holmberg would continue as he was called for tripping Claude Giroux at 8:26, resulting in Holmberg’s second penalty of the game, six minutes in total. The Sens capitalized on their man advantage as Derrick Brassard banked it in off of Timothy Liljegren’s stick, giving the Sens a 3-2 lead at 9:57. The Leafs parade to the penalty box would continue as Michael Bunting was called for boarding Alex DeBrincat at 11:37 sending the Sens back to the power play for the fourth time on the night. The Leafs killed off the man advantage to keep it a 3-2 game. Justin Holl made a fantastic pass to spring Alex Kerfoot all alone, but he couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. The Sens managed to gain entry to the Leafs zone, and as a result, Shane Pinto was able to find Drake Batherson, who was left all alone, and he made no mistake giving the Sens a 4-2 lead. With 2:30 to go in the second period, Tim Stutzle was called for tripping Mark Giordano. The Leafs couldn’t generate much of anything with the man advantage, but Pierre Engvall rang the puck off the post as the power play concluded. The final seconds would tick away in the second period, and the Sens would carry a 4-2 lead into the third period. Shots on goal in the second period were tied 12-12 and 27-26 overall in favor of the blue and white.
Both teams traded chances back and forth in the opening minutes of the third period. It was the Sens who eventually broke through as Brady Tkachuk absolutely rifled it top shelf past Samsonov giving the Sens a 5-2 lead. That goal seemed to take the wind out of the Leafs sails, and they weren’t able to generate much of anything offensively for the next few shifts following the 5-2 goal. The Sens beat the Leafs to every loose puck, playing more aggressively, and quite frankly, they were the better team through the first six minutes of the third period. With just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation, Giroux managed to get in all alone on a breakaway, but Ilya Samsonov shut the door. The Leafs would again find themselves heading to the box, giving the Sens their fifth power play as Rasmus Sandin was called for tripping Mathieu Joseph. The Sens really struggled to gain entry to the Leafs zone as they went offside in back-to-back attempts to get in the zone. Tkachuk and DeBrincat broke away two-on-one, Tkachuk managed to get the puck across to DeBrincat, but he couldn’t finish it, which led to some visible frustration from DeBrincat. The Leafs managed to get out of the penalty kill unscathed with just seven minutes remaining in regulation. The Leafs were sloppy with the puck, trying to move it through the neutral zone. Eventually, it would cost them as they turned the puck over to Claude Giroux, who showed off his incredible skill and patience as he pulled off a toe drag and ripped it past Samsonov to make it 6-2. With that goal, the Leafs faithful began to flood toward the exits. Shots on goal in the third period were 8-6 in favor of the Sens and 34-33 overall in favor of the Sens. TOI leader for the blue and white in this one was Mitch Marner with 22:22.
Tonight’s Three Stars
1. Brady Tkachuk: 2 Goals
2. Tim Stutzle: 2 Assists
3. Claude Giroux: 1 Goal, 1 Assist
The Leafs return to action on Sunday as they host the Washington Capitals for their fourth game of this current five game home stand. Sunday’s game will be extra special, as team captain John Tavares will be skating in his 1000th career game. An impressive milestone for a fantastic individual.
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