SENATORS 5, LEAFS 3
Nothing like a tidy victory in the Battle of Ontario for the Ottawa Senators.
Returning from a 10-day break, the Senators struggled a bit early, but got their act together and extended their winning streak to three games with a 5-3 win over the arch-rival Toronto Maple Leafs at the Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday night.
Josh Norris, Shane Pinto, Vladimir Tarasenko, Claude Giroux and Ridly Greig did the scoring for the Senators, while netminder Joonas Korpisalo made the necessary stops to wrap up the two points.
Greig put it away into empty net and Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly took exception to the way the rookie forward blasted a slap shot home from the edge of the crease, cross-checking the Senators forward in the head and earning a major penalty and game misconduct.
It was the Senators’ seventh win in the past 11 games and it moved interim head coach Jacques Martin’s record to .500 at 10-10-2 since taking over on Dec. 18.
This was the final chapter of the provincial rivalry for this National Hockey League season. Ottawa came into this game with a 2-1-0 record against Toronto and had outscored the Leafs 14-8 in the first three games.
Max Domi pulled the Maple Leafs within a goal with 14:48 left in the third period, when he fired a blast from the slot past Korpisalo.
Norris’s 13th goal of the season gave the Senators a 4-2 lead heading into the third period. He made a great effort, picking off a pass, skating into the zone and firing a blast top shelf behind Toronto goalie Martin Jones.
That came at 15:13 of the second period. Norris needed it one in a big way because it was his first goal since Dec. 23 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, ending a 15-game drought.
MAKING THE STOPS
The Senators are 10-6-1 against teams in their own division by beating the Leafs. That’s impressive … Pinto had quite a second period with a goal and an assist. He tipped a shot home at 11:13 of the second period to give Ottawa a 3-2 lead. That came after some good pressure in the Toronto zone. That was Pinto’s third of the season and it came in his seventh game since returning. It came only 1:30 after Matthew Knies had tied it up 2-2 for Toronto on a great shot tip by Korpisalo … Tarasenko isn’t doing any harm to his value going into the NHL trade deadline on March 8. He scored his 14th of the season after taking pass from Pinto, skating in alone and beating Jones with a shot on the stick side. That gave the Senators a 2-1 lead … The Senators recorded their 13th sellout of the season with a crowd of 19,679. It’s fair to say there quite a few blue Maple Leafs jerseys in audience, but the Senators did the best they could to give their fans something to cheer about.
OFF THE GLASS
A turnover near Leafs’ blue-line resulted in a 3-on-1 break for the Senators. Giroux was there to pick up a rebound and did some nifty work to beat Jones with a backhand shot with 2:07 remaining in the first period. That was Giroux’ fourth goal of the season against the Leafs, and his sixth point, and it tied the game 1-1 … It looked like the Leafs had pulled out to a 2-0 lead when Domi redirected a pass by Korpisalo, but the Senators challenged that the play had been offside and it didn’t take long for the situation room in Toronto to rule that the goal shouldn’t count. Bullet dodged … Of course it was Auston Matthews who opened the scoring for Toronto. He took a pass from Mitch Marner and one-timed the puck by Korpisalo at 3:45 of the first period. That was his 24th goal in 33 career games against Ottawa, but it was his first against the Senators this season. That goal came on a delayed penalty, which would have been a tripping call on Artem Zub … Jones made a good glove stop on Drake Batherson with 8:35 left in the first period and then foiled Thomas Chabot.
THE FINAL BUZZER
The Senators have changed their tune.
They were welcomed onto the ice to the Hells Bells by AC/DC before they faced the Leafs, as well as a new video presentation.
Gone was the Trumpeters Cry that has been played when the club has skated onto the ice since the Senators returned to the NHL for the 1992-93 campaign.
That song had been written by Andres del Castillo of the local pop band Eight Seconds and he sent it to the Senators when the organization was granted the franchise.
In case you’re not old enough to remember Eight Seconds, they were best known for the 1986 hit single Kiss You When it’s Dangerous, but they also won a CHEZ-FM contest in 1983 with a song called Where’s Bula.
The Senators’ new video presentation was pretty sharp and promoted a season-ticket campaign slogan “Let’s move forward together.”