February 4, 2012
Leafs pile on Sens' pain
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
The Senators staggered away from the Battle of Ontario humiliated, embarrassed and soundly beaten.
All that was missing was a white towel of surrender.
The losing skid hit six straight for the Senators Saturday night at Scotiabank Place and it may be time to sound the alarms because this 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t have been much worse.
While the parade route for James Reimer will be paved in Toronto after recording his second straight shutout with 49 stops, the Senators didn’t have many great scoring chances and have been outscored 20-8 in the six losses.
Winger Phil Kessel helped deliver the knockout punch with a three-point effort. Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Luke Schenn also scored while Joffrey Lupul chipped in two assists as Toronto moved one point behind Ottawa for seventh in the East.
Though every loss stings, nothing hurts the Senators and their faithful more than a loss to the Leafs, especially when most of the crowd of 20,500 is dominated by Toronto fans cheering the visitors at the top of their lungs.
Before the game, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson talked about the fact it was great this was a big game because both teams are in a playoff spot. At this point, only the Leafs appear to be going in the right direction.
“We’d like to see all Canadian teams in the playoffs. No question. Both teams are probably happy where they are now, but we know there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s going to be a fierce race all the way to the finish,” said Alfredsson.
Alfredsson, booed every time he touched the puck by Leaf fans, isn’t kidding. If the Senators don’t start stringing together a few wins soon, they’ll be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in with several teams chasing.
You can’t blame goalie Craig Anderson, who was making his 17th straight start. He tried to hold the Senators in it and didn’t have any support whatsoever.
The Senators’ compete level just wasn’t high enough. They had 33 shots on Reimer through two periods. They’d clearly been told to shoot high, but they weren’t going to beat him from the perimeter and had little in the way of chances.
That has to be a major concern in this kind of game against a division rival. The situation hasn’t improved in the past six games and the Senators need to find a way to get back to playing the way they did in early January.
The Leafs were certainly the better team through 40 minutes. They wanted it more. Burned twice in a 4-2 loss to the Islanders, Jared Cowen was beaten again by Bozak at 8:25 of the second.
The rookie blueliner was caught flat-footed in a 1-on-1 battle with Bozak. He went to the net alone and beat a sliding Anderson with a backhand into the net to give the Leafs a 3-0 lead.
The Senators spotted the Leafs a 2-0 lead in the first and they started to fall apart in the process. After being held scoreless on two attempts on the power play, Ottawa then allowed Toronto to completely take control.
Phaneuf looked like he scored a Cup winner with his fist pump after fired a blast by Anderson after taking a perfect pass from Kessel in the right circle at 17:02 with Sergei Gonchar off for hooking.
Kessel opened the scoring by picking up a rebound off of defenceman Matt Carkner’s skate and beating a screened Anderson top shelf at 13:47.