Every team has a few opponents where it doesn’t really matter where either club is in the standings, you know anything is possible when the two sides meet.

For the Toronto Maple Leafs, we can take our pick between the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, and the Boston Bruins. No matter what and no matter when, chaos is a real possibility.

Tonight was no different, but the Leafs managed to pull it off, and two points are all that matters as they seek to clinch home-ice advantage in round one.

Your game in 10:

1.  The Leafs game against Washington was one of their best and most complete of the season, so I was curious to see how it would carry over on a Saturday night in front of a ton of Leafs fans in Ottawa.

I wouldn’t say they came out guns blazing, but the Leafs carried play save for TJ Brodie getting beat really badly by Adam Gaudette off the rush. They then had a power play where the first unit was dangerous and almost finished off a few scrums in front before the second unit didn’t create much of anything.

Through 10 minutes, the Leafs completely carried play, but the two best chances were Gaudette’s off the rush and Josh Norris essentially missing a wide-open net on a tic-tac-toe passing play off of the rush.

2.  Coming off of a commercial timeout with an offensive zone faceoff, Sheldon Keefe put William Nylander up next to Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for a shift. They didn’t score or even really generate a scoring chance, but they did draw a power play.

It’s worthwhile to find this trio more looks. Over the past few weeks, the Leafs are clearly establishing that they can in fact just play John Tavares with their non-star wingers and the line will be effective. The Leafs could hypothetically use a loaded top line and follow it up with a more than respectable Tavares-led line, then the David Kampf-led line, and add Michael Bunting to one of the units.

It might not be a look they use over the entire 60 minutes, but there will obviously be times when they are trailing in the playoffs and will want to either change up the lines or load up to make a push.

3.  As the first half of the period kind of portended, the Leafs carried play yet it was the Senators who went down the ice and scored the opening goal off of the rush. TJ Brodie, who really struggled throughout the period, made a weak attempt when he had a wide open shot at the beginning (after rewatching it a few times, I’m not sure he realized that he was getting a puck; this is why he’s a defenseman).

Justin Holl took a crazy route after making a nice pass; while you wonder if he would have been able to do anything anyway had he made a hard stop right after the pass, maybe it’s a 2v1 instead (which would make a difference). Even if he couldn’t get back, it’s a bad process to coast through there. I wouldn’t expect a full stop — it’s unreasonable to expect it of him there — but he also can’t coast right down through the slot as if Brodie is scoring a guaranteed goal.

The most underrated part of the goal is that Alex Kerfoot, who would have been the forward in position to cover high, got buried with a clean hit by Brady Tkachuk. Instead, he was picking himself up off the ground, Holl didn’t make a full stop, Brodie made a terrible play with the puck, and it was a 2v0 goal where there’s nothing you can really say to the goalie other than to apologize.

Shortly after the goal, Michael Bunting went on a mini-breakaway, but he was turned aside.

4.  The defensive errors continued shortly after as the Senators gained the zone off the rush, circled behind the net, and got it to the point. If you watch the front of the net, Timothy Liljegren was standing right in front of Erik Kallgren screening him for no reason. Brady Tkachuk pushed him out of the way and screened the goalie himself before the puck got to Kallgren and deflected in off of Liljegren.

A defenseman in that position has to find a man and box him out, not screen his goalie, get pushed out of the way, and have the puck deflect in off of you.

The Leafs did try to generate another push afterward. Nylander took a penalty on a weak call, but the Leafs created a 2v1 while shorthanded anyway. TJ Brodie again made a poor decision with the puck, leading to no real scoring chance.

5.  The Leafs have been rightfully experimenting with their fourth line. Jason Spezza has struggled for a while; Wayne Simmonds for even longer. Kyle Clifford can’t play every single night. The only real mainstay at this point is Colin Blackwell.

In the second period, the version that featured Clifford – Blackwell – Spezza connected for a goal after getting the puck into the offensive zone off of a clean breakout, working it to the point, and simply getting to the net. Giordano did really well to keep the puck in, Holl made a really nice heads-up play to spot Clifford calling for it and float an easy one for him to tip, and Clifford made a great tip on it (although based on his reaction after, we’re not entirely sure he actually knew what he was doing).

You want the fourth line to be able to swing games and change the momentum. It isn’t always with a goal — especially with this group — but in this case, it was a nice contribution on the scoresheet to get the Leafs back within one.

6.  After the goal, I started to think that if the fourth line got them one, surely someone else will follow it up and we would have ourselves a tied hockey game. After the goal, though, the Leafs really didn’t do much of anything.

The top line had one chance — if the cross-ice pass connected, it was likely a tie game — but it was knocked away and then the Leafs really didn’t create much in the way of high-danger opportunities in the first half of the second period. Naturally, the Senators eventually went down the ice, cycled the puck to the point, threw a point shot on that net for a deflection, and opened up a two-goal lead again.

Somewhat similar to their second goal, the Sens were able to get clean point shots off and get bodies to the front of the net with ease.

7.  This time, the Leafs did respond well with a goal just 1:17 later. The top line was buzzing on this one. Timothy Liljegren hit the post, but the Leafs kept possession. Eventually, Mark Giordano picked up the puck down his strong side and made a nice shot-pass off of Michael Bunting and in.

That was Giordano’s second point on the night (to that point). Bunting did well to get to the net and make himself an option. Unlike the first goal, this one really gave the Leafs some life and they started to create some chances and energy.

It was primarily led by the top line as Mitch Marner was dancing and creating on the next shift. Morgan Rielly also walked in and had a nice shot turned away. Going the other way, Liljegren got caught in the offensive zone and Tkachuk broke in on a mini-breakaway that Erik Kallgren turned away, which was a big play as the Leafs were starting to gain steam while only down one.

That was big because Marner tied the game before the period was even over. Marner basically did everything on this one. After the Leafs lost the offensive-zone draw, Marner created the turnover, passed the puck to TJ Brodie, and then one-timed it home.

The confidence of Marner in his shot right now is undeniable. There’s just no chance he takes that shot a few years ago or even last spring against the Habs.

8.  Coming out for the third, the top line got off to a nice start by generating some zone time. Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall created some good chances off of the forecheck (John Tavares was involved as well), but it was the Senators that broke the deadlock off a giveaway by Ilya Lyubushkin.

There’s really not much else to say here – he fanned on the puck. Lyubushkin is physical and solid positionally, but the puck handling and puck moving is the real question for him when it comes to playing in the playoffs, particularly alongside Rielly — and especially if they play against Tampa Bay.

Despite regularly playing with Morgan Rielly, Lyubushkin is only averaging 16:16 per game as a Leaf and he hasn’t played more than 16:03 in any of his last five games, although he did play 18 minutes tonight. His lack of ice time to go along with the quality players he’s generally sharing the ice with helps to hide these weaknesses.

In a perfect world for the coaching staff, the Jake MuzzinJustin Holl pairing returns to form (there is absolutely zero evidence for anyone to believe this at this point, but I think this is why they instantly reunited them when Muzzin returned), TJ Brodie is able to reunite with Rielly, and they can pair Mark Giordano with Timothy Liljegren since they have been effective together.

There has been so much talk about Liljegren or Holl coming out of the playoff lineup, but Lyubushkin is certainly in the mix (and not just because of this goal against; he barely plays in comparison to Holl, and he can’t produce like Liljegren). But with Muzzin’s health and overall play in flux — to go along with Holl’s up and down play — it’s a case of musical chairs at the moment.

9.  The rollercoaster game was not over yet, though. Mitch Marner once again tied it, making a nice little give-and-go play with Michael Bunting, who had the wherewithal to get it to the net. It’s the kind of greasy goal you love to see: Player drives the net hard, teammate puts it low to the net for a rebound, and the puck deflects in off of a teammate.

It was a two-goal night for Marner – who is now up to 33 on the season! – and a two-point night for Bunting. As usual with this team, the top line carried the mail offensively. At the same time, in the third period, Keefe reverted to some old lines the rest of the way: Kerfoot – Tavares – Nylander, Engvall – Kampf – Mikheyev.

10a.  The rest of the way, the Leafs generally carried the play and chances – save for one big 2v1 by the Sens in regulation that Auston Matthews had a great backcheck on (after turning it over) to save a likely goal with a minute left. There was another 2v1 for the Sens in overtime that Tkachuk shot right into Erik Kallgren’s chest.

There was a review for a possible Senators goal that had a zero percent chance of counting before Mark Giordano finally said enough of this, walked in, and beat Anton Forsberg cleanly. Game for the Leafs, and a three-point night for Giordano.

10b.  Sign Mark Giordano to a contract extension immediately.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Game Highlights: Leafs 5 vs. Senators 4 (OT)