Cowen fights, scores in Senators defeat

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:39 AM ET

TORONTO - Jared Cowen’s one-man show was not enough for the Senators in their 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in NHL exhibition action Monday night.

The rookie Senators defenceman scored twice — and even dropped the gloves. He brought the Senators to within one goal in the third period as he beat Ben Scrivens, but Tyler Bozak’s second goal of the game sealed the victory.

“I was pretty happy,” said Cowen. “The team was pretty jumpy and nervous. I was kind of glad I got in the fight because it got me settled down and it gets the nerves out. I thought I did OK and I felt pretty calm after that.”

Winger Milan Michalek was favouring his knee as he left the ice after a third-period scrum. Michalek is trying to bounce back from a broken foot late last season.

Senators coach Paul MacLean said Michalek blocked a shot, “but he should be fine.”

While Francis Lessard, Zenon Konopka, Chris Neil, Zack Smith and Tim Conboy were in the lineup, the Leafs didn’t look like they were in the mood to fight as Bozak, Carl Gunarsson and Colby Armstrong scored for the home team.

The Leafs took a 3-1 lead early in the third on Bozak’s goal at 5:05. That came after Patrick Wiercioch, who struggled, turned over the puck. Bozak beat Robin Lehner through the five-hole and the Senators’ comeback fell short.

Cowen and Erik Karlsson were the best Senators. Winger Nikita Filatov assisted on both of Cowen’s goals and also showed flashes of brilliance.

Cowen scored his first on a beautiful setup in the slot by Filatov to beat Jonas Gustavsson with 7:25 left in the second.

Cowen missed most of the first period as a result of being handed 17 minutes in penalties — including an instigator — after he dropped the gloves to wrestle with Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf 5:06 into the game.

There weren’t many punches thrown, but it was a gutsy move by Cowen. It came after Phaneuf had nailed Conboy with a shoulder. That kind of move will win over the hearts of a lot of Ottawa fans.

“(Phaneuf) took a run at Conboy and I just skated toward him,” said Cowen. “I didn’t think he was going to drop them that fast. I guess I got the instigator, but I didn’t have my gloves off.

“He kind of rushed me a bit but once I got myself (set) I was OK.”

The Senators found themselves down 2-1 after 40 minutes. Lehner was beaten on the second shot he faced when Gunarsson scored from the top of the circle on the power play at 11:03 of the second.

Senators starting goalie Alex Auld left midway through the second after facing 15 shots with the score tied 1-1. He had to make big stops with the young defencemen struggling, while the Senators didn’t have much in the way of chances on Gustavsson, who stopped 11-of-12 shots before Scrivens took over.

MacLean said it was a good start.

“I thought it was a pretty good game. There was a lot of things we liked about it,” said MacLean. “I felt we had some self-inflicted wounds for the third and fourth (goals) that could have been avoidable.

“I thought we were a little bit tight and tentative to start the game and that’s indicative of young players. Cowen responded pretty well and Mika Zibanejad got better. Overall, it’s their first game against NHL players and it’s not unexpected to have growing pains.”

The Senators return home to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.


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