Leafs Hang On Against the Senators
For the first fifty minutes of the Leafs and Senators game the boys in blue and white dominated. Building up a 5-1 lead with about ten minutes left in the third, everything was lollipops and teddy bears for Leaf fans. However that's when the wheels fell off. Daniel Alfredsson scored two goals, while Jason Spezza and Stephen Da Costa added singles to almost steal points out of a game that they were completely absent from. For the last few seasons the Leafs have been the masters of these late, improbable scoring sprees after the game was out of reach. Like the Senators tonight, the Leafs usually fell short. It's nice to be on the winning side of these games. The fact of the matter is, the Leafs fell asleep and the Senators took advantage. The Leafs hung on though tonight, and it was a valuable lesson to learn early in the season.
The final ten minutes shouldn't take away from how good the Leafs looked for the majority of tonight's tilt. Toronto was led tonight by their star players. Phil Kessel scored his first hat trick as a Maple Leaf, and Dion Phaneuf added an assist while playing just under 27 minutes. Phaneuf also destroyed Da Costa with an absolute thunderous bodycheck in the second period. It was a clean hit, and it demonstrated that during this headshot crackdown hitting can still be a big part of Phaneuf's game. James Reimer did concede five goals on the night, but he had a shutout heading into the third period. Reimer played a solid game, and to be fair to the Leafs goaltender the defense completely abandoned him late in the game.
Joffrey Lupul and Mikhail Grabovski scored power play goals, and the Leafs penalty killing was very solid on the night. Ottawa did score on both sides of a two man advantage late in the third, but when the game was in question the Leafs penalty killers defended expertly. Lupul had a great game tonight, his size and speed made him a threat, and he finished with two assists one being a beautiful cross ice feed to Kessel. Colton Orr added the other Leaf goal on the night in his first game back since a terrible concussion suffered in January.
Men of the Match
Leafs: Phil Kessel - During his time with the Leafs Kessel has often been accused of being lazy, disinterested defensively and a goal scorer who never gets the 'big' goal. Well in tonight's game Kessel was all over the ice, he scored a goal in each of the first two periods, and exposed the Senators defense (especially Sergei Gonchar) all night. Kessel also scored the game winning goal late in the third, to preserve the victory and avoid a horrible embarrassment. The Leafs sniper was also on the ice late in the game defensively, and did a good job with his speed. Early in the season Kessel looks to be a motivated and complete player, hopefully he can keep this up.
Senators: Daniel Alfredsson - The Senators captain led the comeback tonight with two goals. His first was on a breakaway after leaving the penalty box (Alfredsson was in the box because he slew footed Grabovski), his second was on a deflection. Like the rest of the Sens team, Alfredsson's effort was too little too late.
The Leafs won't play again until next Saturday when they host Matt Stajan and the Calgary Flames.
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