James Reimer stood on his head but a plethora of turnovers proved deadly for the Toronto Maple Leafs , as they fell 3 – 2 to the Ottawa Senators on Monday night. Reimer made 34 saves while Senators starter Robin Lehner made 25 in defeat. James van Riemsdyk scored an absolute beauty and Dion Phaneuf collected the other tally for the Leafs who are now 4 – 1 – 1 in the preseason.
Because the league is hilarious, Phil Kessel served the first game of his suspension for his Paul Bunyan antics on Sunday while David Clarkson took his spot on the top line, as he waits for his 10-game suspension to begin on October 1.
Taking a cue from Sunday’s pugilistic proceedings, both Randy Carlyle and Paul MacLean chose to keep their rosters littered with tough guys. Both Chris Neil and Dave Dziurzynski suited up for Ottawa, while the Leafs countered with Troy Bodie and Jamie Devane.
Dion Phaneuf took a penalty less than five minutes into the first period, high-sticking Ottawa’s Mark Stone. The Leafs 2013-approved penalty kill continued it’s perfect run through the preseason, though they did give up a fairly ugly breakaway to Sens forward Corey Cowick. Reimer, fresh off a 15-save performance in Saturday’s shootout, was up to the task and turned the chance aside.
In earnest, the Leafs were guilty of a lot of turnovers through 20, none more egregious than Joe Colborne’s at the 10 minute mark. Colborne had his head down skating out of the zone as the Senators were completing a change, and had his pocket picked by the forechecking Sens forward, Andre Petterson. Petterson charged in alone, but was stoned by Reimer’s left hand. Colborne also committed two fairly notable turnovers at the tail end of the period (the 13:00 and 19:00 minute marks). If he’s still auditioning for a fourth line spot… Yikes.
After Jake Gardiner turned the puck over in the neutral zone, Stephan Da Costa snuck in and had a great chance on James Reimer, who responded with one of his many terrific saves through the period. As has often been the case since arriving in Toronto, Reimer was the best player on the ice for either team through 20.
The Leafs were outshot 11-6 in the first frame, and didn’t record a shot for about 10 minutes in the first. The excuse “it’s only preseason” notwithstanding, the Leafs are falling into familiar bad habits.
After Morgan Rielly keeps the puck alive on the right wing half boards, Tyler Bozak drops a pass down to James van Riemsdyk off to the right wing side of the net. JvR used his patented spin-and-flick shot in close (here it is against the Flyers last season) to make it 1 – 0 for the Leafs. Though JvR’s goal was a thing of beauty, the play wouldn’t have happened without the determination and offensive instincts of Rielly. He led the initial rush that brought the puck into the Senators zone, and kept the play alive twice to prolong the Leafs attack before van Riemsdyk potted that beauty.
Jay McClement took a penalty on the ensuing faceoff, and just as in the first frame, Reimer and the PKers got the job done. Reimer in particular was superb, making two terrific saves to keep the Leafs up on the Senators.
After receiving a terrific stretch, Ottawa’s Zack Smith blows past Paul Ranger at the Leafs blueline, cuts toward the middle and scores five-hole shortly after the Leafs penalty expired. The play started after the Leafs – surprise, surprise – turned the puck over just inside the Senators blueline.
The Leafs weren’t moving their legs by the middle of the second, and the Sens were able to attack the zone with a couple 2-on-1s. Reimer was up to the task.
With a 1:34 remaining in the period, Patrick Weircioch held up David Broll. 41 seconds into the Leafs ensuing power play, Lupul grabs onto his checker and the Leafs go to 4-on-4. That isn’t so bad, as the Leafs power play has gone only 1 for 18 in the preseason thus far.
It also led to a tremendous 3 on 1 rush led by Kadri. Clarkson fired a terrific shot, but Sens goalie Robin Lehner made a tremendous windmill glove save with 11.7 seconds left to keep the score knotted at 1 – 1.
Despite being outshot 27 – 17 through 40, the Leafs rallied back and started out the third with a lot more jump. Jay McClement nearly made it 2-1 for the Leafs, but Lehner pulled a fairly old school kick save to keep the game even.
James van Riemsdyk was the Leafs best forward by far tonight, scoring a goal and adding another 3-4 great chances, most of which came in the third period. It’ll be really interesting to see how he progresses this season, but he could challenge for 30 goals this season if he plays like he did tonight.
Jim O’Brien makes it 2 – 1 Senators on a very unlucky play. The Senators attacked the zone 3 on 2, and Corey Cowick redirected a shot from Patrick Weircioch. The puck rebounded off Reimer’s pad, and caromed off O’Brien’s right foot, then caromed off his left foot and trickled over the goal line.
Shortly after Colin Greening makes it 3 – 1 Ottawa, pouncing on the loose puck and wiring a shot past Riemer. The Senators clearing pass deflected off Joe Colborne and bounced right onto the stick of Colin Greening, who had just come off the bench, in the slot.
Shortly thereafter, Joffrey Lupul collects a turnover in the neutral zone. Lupul feeds Dion Phaneuf on the 2 on 1, and the captain makes no mistake one-timing the puck past a sprawling Lehner. Lupul displayed impeccable patience on the pass, forcing the Senators’ defender to commit to him before chipping it to Phaneuf.
Phaneuf’s marker made for some excitement, and despite a spirited effort in the remaining seven seconds of play, the Leafs couldn’t overcome the hole they dug themselves in the middle portion of the period, and ultimately fell to the Senators 3 – 2.
The Maple Leafs will be back at it on Friday in Detroit as they start the first half of a home and home series with the Red Wings to close out the preseason. Minus Kessel, we should see a lineup very close to the the opening night roster this weekend.