Leafs hold off Senators
TORONTO—Halfway through the truncated NHL season and Toronto coach Randy Carlyle sees a mixed bag as well as 15 wins in 24 games.
There was good and bad last night that saw the Leafs ride an ugly knockout and early lead to win the latest instalment of the “Battle of Ontario” by holding on to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4.
“It’s frustrating for us at times to not be able to do some of the things that we’ve done so well in other parts of the game,” he noted.
“And then it leaves us for extended periods of time.”
The Mojo abandoned the Leafs in the third period last night when the Senators outshot them 18-4 and outscored them 3-2.
Tyler Bozak, Jay McClement, James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel, and Nazem Kadri scored for Toronto before a crowd of 19,412 at the Air Canada Centre.
Mika Zibanejad, Zack Smith, Daniel Alfredsson, and Colin Greening replied for Ottawa, which fell behind 3-0 before fighting back in the third to make it 3-2 early and 5-4 late.
The Sens outshot the Leafs 43-28.
The Leafs had difficulties burying the visitors and found themselves under the gun late in the game after Alfredsson made it 5-3.
Greening then stuffed in the puck to make it 5-4 at 18:03 with Sens’ goalie Ben Bishop on the bench.
“We won the hockey game and got two points,” said Carlyle.
“Is it a masterpiece? You be the judge.”
The good news for Carlyle?
“I don’t think we’ve had everyone going on one given night, to prove to us or to prove to themselves how good we can be,” he noted.
“We’ve had too many interruptions, I would say.”
Before the goals came the fights.
It took just 26 seconds before mayhem erupted with 6’5” Toronto tough guy Frazer McLaren taking on 6’3” Dave Dziurzynski at a face-off.
McLaren ended the fight violently and decisively when he caught the Sens’ forward flush with a right to the chin, toppling him face down.
Dziurzynski was slow getting up and eventually needed help from two teammates to skate off the ice.
Had it been the UFC, McLaren would have won knockout-of-the-night bonus.
Sadly, Dziurzynski may or may not remember the three seconds he officially logged in his 10th career NHL game. He did not return, with the Sens citing a concussion.
“That’s what McLaren does and it was definitely good for Dziurzynski to step up, but I don’t know if that was the best trad-eoff,” said Smith.
“He’s a big guy but it’s just unfortunate he put himself in that situation.
Smith said he had checked on his teammate after the game and “he looked fine.”
“Those are big tough men fighting,” noted Carlyle. “You see that, you just wish the trainer gets there quicker.”
“I hope he’s OK,” said McLaren.
McLaren, noting the Leafs had a flat start last time out, said he asked Dziurzynski to fight.
“I was just trying to get us going early,” he reasoned. “I asked him [to fight] and he actually said no, so I thought we weren’t going to go and then he ended up dropping his stuff there when the puck dropped.
“He’s a big guy and he actually gave me a few good ones early there.
“It was just a lucky punch,” McLaren added. “It happens sometimes.”
The game marked the halfway point of the shortened season for both Toronto (15-9-0) and Ottawa (12-8-4).
“To me it’s all irrelevant right now,” Carlye said when asked about the milestone.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” he stressed.
“We’re going to meet some real good hockey clubs here and it’s going to start [Thursday] night in Boston.”
Wracked by injuries, the Senators have relied on some stingy defence. They came into the game ranked second only to Chicago in goals against, giving up just 1.83 a game.
Ottawa has been good at home (9-1-2) and poor on the road (3-7-2). The Leafs, conversely, have profited more away (9-4-0) than at home (6-5-0).
Elsewhere in the NHL, Chicago nipped Colorado 3-2, Calgary beat San Jose 4-1, and Anaheim blanked Phoenix 2-0.