Another late Leafs letdown

MIKE ZEISBERGER, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Paul Maurice looked up, perhaps seeking some kind of divine intervention.

For arguably the first time in his brief tenure as the bench boss of the Maple Leafs, the personable Toronto head coach appeared to be completely exasperated.

Standing at the podium for his post-game news conference, Maurice had just been asked how his Leafs could let the Ottawa Senators' Chris Kelly stand wide open in front of the net in the game's waning moments while nursing a one-goal advantage.

Letting out a huge sigh, he peered upward.

"I know, I know," he said. "We're working on it."

Maurice had plenty of reason to be frustrated.

With his team up 2-1 and the clock ticking down, none of his players bothered to pick up Kelly, who tapped in the tying goal with just 2:06 remaining in regulation. For the record, the defence tandem of Brendan Bell and Hal Gill was nowhere to be found on the play.

The nightmare on Bay St. was then completed when Chris Phillips fanned on a redirect that still managed to find its way off the far post at 2:33 of overtime for a 3-2 Sens win, devastating both the Leafs and the capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre.

Six regulars -- Michael Peca, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker and Carlo Colaiacovo -- were out of the lineup with injury or illness, but the depleted Leafs showed considerable spunk and should have won the game.

After Alex Steen and Dean McAmmond exchanged goals in the first two periods, Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft made a huge glove save off Dany Heatley midway through the third. Seconds later, Boyd Devereaux beat the Sens' Ray Emery to put the hosts up 2-1.

Then came yet another third-period Leafs collapse.

"I was a hard-fought game and to have it go like that, well, it hurts," Maurice said.

Raycroft was fooled a bit by the knuckleball which proved to be the winner, but otherwise showed the form a No. 1 netminder needs to have. That didn't stop the media from peppering him with questions concerning a potential goaltending controversy.

"Look, I don't care if it's myself or J-S (Aubin), just so long as we win," said Raycroft, the game's third star.

Playing just his second game as a Leaf after being called up from the Marlies, Devereaux scored his first goal for Toronto and has looked sharp in his brief stint.

"It was a big thrill," he said. "Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be the winner."

Kelly made sure of that.

"We battled back," Kelly said. "(Phillips) had the game winner but Ray was the man."

Emery, the game's first star, stopped 43 Leafs shots.

"There is no love lost between these teams," said Emery, whose Sens are now 11-2 against the Leafs since the lockout. "We gun for each other."

REPORT CARD

B Forwards: Peppered Emery with 45 shots but could only score twice. Games, after all, are won on the scoreboard, not the shot clock.

C Defence: Contained Alfredsson and Heatley for the most part but how could they let Kelly be so open in the final moments of regulation?

B Goaltending: Raycroft was steady from the opening faceoff and had little chance on any of the Ottawa goals.


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