The Maple Leafs started hot but couldn’t keep their foot on the gas and yet again gave up some cheap and easy goals as the next-generation game slipped away against the Ottawa Senators.

Your game in 10:

1.  The Leafs opened this game really strongly, generating a few prime chances in front of the net. A broken passing play from the third line resulted in a Calle Järnkrok chance right in front, and Timothy Liljegren‘s shot just missed the top corner. Only a few seconds after the Liljegren miss, the Leafs struck first.

A bounce on the boards resulted in the puck bouncing into the high slot to Auston Matthews with all the time in the world. The best goal scorer in the league was given time and space to load, take aim, and fire a snapshot that just caught the edge of Matthew Knies’ skate as it beat Joonas Korpisalo.

2.  It didn’t take long for the Leafs to extend the lead — just 23 seconds. After the Leafs dumped the puck back into the offensive zone and retrieved it on the forecheck, William Nylander stood at the point surveying the scene and sent the puck to the left boards to Morgan Rielly, who was pinching deep into the zone. As Rielly collected the puck and looked up toward the net, Tyler Bertuzzi was perfectly positioning himself to box out the defender in front and give Rielly an easy target for a redirect goal.

With an assist on that goal, Nylander’s point streak is now up to 12 games, and there have only been three games this season in which Nylander failed to register a point. He’s now on pace for 117 points on the year, which would tie Darryl Sittler for the second most any Leafs player has recorded in a single season.

As for Bertuzzi, that’s exactly the kind of goal the Leafs signed him to produce (and he really should’ve scored more than one of these tonight). Both of the rejigged top-six lines (as of the Columbus game) were on the board and rolling early.

3.  As the period wore on for the Leafs, the pace of play slowed down a bit. There were a few turnovers in the neutral zone as the Leafs defenders struggled to break out of their own zone with efficiency — a bit of a warning sign of things to come as there were far too many instances of the Leafs lobbing the puck off the boards or missing passes out of their own zone as the game wore on. The lack of cohesion between the defense and forwards on breakouts was a real issue in this game, and it was one Sheldon Keefe alluded to when it came to Toronto’s second-period struggles in this game and in the season overall (more on that later).

As the first period neared its end, each team went on a power-play opportunity and both teams created a couple of chances on their respective man advantage — Nylander even hit the post — but both penalty-killing units did a good job at keeping things to the outside and clearing the puck when an opportunity presented itself.

4.  As the second period got underway, the Sens came out with a noticeable jump compared to the opening stanza. Ottawa was doing a much better job of pressuring Leafs defenders on the forecheck and forcing more mistakes on Toronto breakouts.

The second period was the only period the Senators won on the advanced metrics as Natural Stat Trick credited Ottawa with winning 57.6% of the shot attempts, 61.5% of the scoring chances, and 56.3% of the expected goals at 5v5 — not to mention they won the actual goals share 2-0 and tied the game.

The Leafs have now dipped to a slender 39-38 advantage in second periods this season compared to their dominance in the middle frame historically under Sheldon Keefe, including a whopping 108-63 advantage last season. The failure to tilt the ice and take games over with the long change is a concerning indicator of the regression in the Leafs’ overall five-on-five play so far this season.

5.  The Senators couldn’t break through right away, though. He wasn’t tested with the highest quality of chances, but Martin Jones — through about half the game — was very solid in goal. He has been about what you could reasonably expect of a veteran backup thrust into the role of carrying the load during Woll’s injury and Samsonov’s meltdown: He will save most of the shots he should save, but if you don’t protect him well enough, he’s probably not bailing you out with first-star performances.

Even though Ottawa came out with some pushback to start the second period, the Leafs were up 2-0, with Jones looking solid in net and the team headed to the man advantage around the midway point. The game appeared to be in a really good spot for Toronto.

6.  The night took a significant turn for the worse with the Leafs’ power play on the ice.

The Leafs lost a puck battle on the wall and were stranded with four deep, presenting the Sens with a shorthanded rush opportunity with Morgan Rielly defending and William Nylander on the backcheck. Both Nylander and Rielly committed to pressuring the puck carrier/potential shooter — one of the game’s best playmakers throughout his career, Claude Giroux — and the pass across was far too easy. Parker Kelly’s shot went bar and in, giving Jones little chance.

The Leafs’ second power-play unit almost gave up a second shorthanded goal moments later as Giroux snuck in on a breakaway (and fanned on the shot) after a ghastly turnover on the entry in the neutral zone. Needless to say, this is how you invite a struggling team back into a hockey game that should’ve been under control for the Leafs at this point: handing them free and clear looks. It’s been far too common a sight for Toronto of late.

7.  As the Sens pushed for the tying goal, the Leafs couldn’t help but continue to get in their own way. After stepping up to steal the puck in the neutral zone, Auston Matthews initially succeeded but didn’t make a solid play on the puck afterward around center ice. Both Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie were caught in between on whether to step up or fall back.

Brodie fell over and took himself out of the play, and while Rielly applied enough pressure to prevent an open lane for Stutzle to cut in on Jones, a low shot off the pad created a rebound into the slot that no Leaf contested — Brodie didn’t recover in time to tie up a stick, and Mitch Marner let up on the backcheck.

8.  Heading into the third period tied after giving up the 2-0 lead, the Leafs needed to shift the momentum. William Laegesson dropped the gloves with Ridly Greig in an entertaining and spirited scrap, but Toronto didn’t start picking up their play until they fell behind.

Just over three minutes into the final frame, the puck bounced into the corner below the goal line. Batherson came down and simply fired it on net hoping for a bounce or to catch Jones off his line. He succeeded; the puck somehow stuck between the shoulder of Jones and the crossbar, and as Jones went to scoop it off his back with his glove, it dropped down on the wrong side of the goal line.

Jones has to keep it tighter on his post and should never let this in, but there was an entirely avoidable turnover on a simple breakout play up the wall to Bertuzzi just beforehand that would’ve avoided the entire sequence as well.

9.  The Leafs generated a couple of good chances in search of an equalizer, including on a few scrambles created by the second line. John Tavares, after multiple failed attempts, shuffled the puck into the blue paint behind Joonas Korpisalo and it trickled along the goal line, but Tyler Bertuzzi just couldn’t quite force it over the goal line.

The third line of Max Domi, Nick Robertson, and Calle Jarnkrok also created a good offensive-zone shift with a few scoring looks. The trio produced their most dominant five-on-five showing this season in terms of the underlying numbers, firing 15 shot attempts in 7:12 of even-strength ice time and allowing just one shot attempt against.

The Leafs were unsurprisingly dictating play with their push from behind, but even at 6-on-5, there wasn’t a sense of inevitability to them breaking through before Brady Tkachuk sealed it with an empty-netter. Given the Leafs’ power play was way off the mark tonight, it probably wasn’t surprising that it translated over onto 6-on-5.

10.  The Leafs’ offense ranks amongst the best in the league currently, and on any given night, they can score four or more and win the game for the team. But if the offense isn’t clicking on a particular night (and the power play is off), the defense and goaltending haven’t been consistent enough for the Leafs to string together lengthy winning streaks even as they’ve avoided any lengthy dips in form.

Outside of the lingering breakout issues hampering their territorial control at five-on-five, the most disappointing aspect of their game of late remains just how much free offense they’re handing the opposition through breakdowns stemming from seemingly nothing plays. It cost them in three regulation losses over their past four games against the Rangers, the Sabres, and now the Senators. The “highway to our net” Sheldon Keefe referenced after the Buffalo debacle remained open for business on the first two Senators goals tonight.

Game Flow: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Heat Map: 5v5 Shot Attempts

Game Highlights: Senators 4 vs. Maple Leafs 2