TORONTO — Like any milestone anniversary celebration should, the 100th Battle of Ontario featured all sorts of fireworks.
Unfortunately for the Senators, all of them were supplied by their provincial rivals.
Ottawa’s record run of 11 consecutive victories came to a ugly end in a 5-0 drubbing by the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre Saturday night.
The Senators lead in the overall regular-season series between the two teams was cut to 42-26-3-5, while the Leafs are 16-8 in their playoff meetings. So yes, roll your eyes and say the Senators lost another of the ones that mattered, as beating Toronto would have given them a share of the record for longest winning streak by a Canadian team, which remains sole property of one of the great Montreal squads from the mid-1970s.
“If anything, it’s a bit of humility. Gets us ready for the next one,” said centre Jason Spezza. “We’ve been playing great and things have been going real well, but you’re going to have bumps along the road. This happened to be it and we’re embarrassed by it. But we’ve just got to bounce back.”
The Senators looked nothing like the Ottawa team that hadn’t lost since Jan. 12. In fact, they were as brutal as they’ve been good since that embarrassing 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Thrashers.
For just the second time since the streak began, they gave up the game’s first goal. For just the second time since it started, they were forced to play catchup. They showed no desire to do so.
The Senators had not allowed more than two goals in a game during the streak and outscored opponents 37-13 over the 11 games.
Perhaps some of the Senators’ incentive was zapped by a thrashing their toughest player, Matt Carkner, received right in from of the Ottawa bench near the midway mark of the first period. Carkner renewed hostilities with Colton Orr, and this time it was the Leaf enforcer’s turn to scoring the resounding knockout.
That’s 2-1 for Orr, if you’re scoring at home. Each fight they’ve had has been a thrashing. In the most recent bout, Carkner ate a couple of jackhammer rights and afterward had trouble getting back on his feet. When he finally did, the officials wouldn’t let him go to the box, insisting instead that he go to a doctor’s appointment in the dressing room.
Carkner returned later in the period.
“We got scored on and I thought it would be a good time to go and (Orr) obliged,” said Carkner. “My game plan was try to eliminate his right, but right away I threw a weak left and left myself wide open, and that was about it.
“It’s just a stupid move on my part. I know better than that. So give him another one, and we’ve got to even up the score again.”
Carkner said when he invited Orr to go again later in the first, the Leaf refused.
“Anyways, we’ll get plenty of chances for that later in the season and in coming years,” said Carkner. “He caught me right in the right spot, right on the button. That’s what ended the fight. It happens. You fight 19 times, I guess you’re gonna lose a few.”
The Senators took the game’s first five minor penalties (Carkner, Alex Picard, Alex Kovalev, Carkner, Kovalev) and they were all bad ones. Still, the Leafs only scored one power-play goal (the night’s first, by Phil Kessel) in roaring to a 3-0 by the fist intermission.
The most disturbing of their goals was the second one, off the stick of Luke Schenn from the top of the right-wing faceoff circle. Brian Elliott, who had played well in rolling together a franchise-record (for a goalie) nine straight wins, offered up a flashback to when he was struggling, as Schenn’s shot went right through him.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot, right off the bat,” said coach Cory Clouston. “Four minor penalties, not a very good goal the second goal, and we scored on ourselves on the third one. Before you knew it we were down 3-0.”
Elliott was yanked after the second period, having given up four goals on 30 shots. Replacing him was Pascal Leclaire, who was making his first appearance since the Atlanta game and returning from a concussion.
Leclaire gave up one goal on seven shots, and it too was scored by Schenn, from near the same spot he beat Elliott, but with a shot high to the short side. Schenn, who also had an assist, entered the night with two goals and seven helpers in 55 games. In No. 56, the Senators made him look like Bobby Orr.
At the other end of the ice, the Senators presented no serious threats against J.S. Giguere, their nemesis from the 2007 Stanley Cup final.
Earlier in the day, Giguere said the Leafs wanted to win the game for Leafs GM Brian Burke, who on Friday lost his 21-year-old son Brendan in a fatal car crash.
Giguere stopped 30 shots for his second shutout in two appearances as a Leaf.