What started out as a laugher for the Leafs gave way to a barnburner of a 3rd period that saw seven goals scored and James Reimer’s shutout streak come to an end in an ignominious fashion. It wasn’t pretty in the end, but they managed to get the job done, mainly on the back of a 3-goal effort from Phil Kessel.
- Phil Kessel took his turn taking a shot at the naysayers. He’s looked great all over the ice, and tonight he was on a whole different level. There’s no denying he’s got one of the quickest releases in the game, and he loves to victimize the Sens. Kessel’s first hat trick as a Maple Leaf couldn’t have come at a better time, especially since the Leafs ended up needing all the goals they could come by. If that wasn’t enough, it seems even Ron Wilson has a new-found faith in the sniper, as he was thrown out for the final shift of the game, and did a great job of burying the puck deep in the Ottawa zone with Matthew Lombardi.
- How good has Dion Phaneuf looked? That hit on young Stefane Da Costa was a huge tone-setter, and the captain got his first assist of the year on Grabbo’s powerplay goal.
- Speaking of the powerplay, other than the fact that the Leafs seem damn near inept with a 5-on-3 advantage, they did manage to grab two powerplay goals on the night, and would have had a 3rd if Matt Frattin hadn’t hit the post – which eventually ended up leading to Daniel Alfredsson’s shorthanded goal.
- On the flip side, the penalty kill was good for most of the game, aside from the nearly two minute 5-on-3 the ended up costing them 2 goals late in the 3rd.
- The Leafs kept their heads for most of the game, staying out of the stupidity that the Sens’ knuckleheads (Chris Neil and Zenon Konopka, in particular) kept trying to dish out. And, even though none of the Senators were foolish enough to tangle with big bad Colton Orr, he managed to get on the score sheet anyway, with a goal, no less.
- While Reimer’s night didn’t end so well, it began spectacularly, as he carried his season-opening shutout streak to 101:42. He finished the game with 27 saves on 32 shots, bringing his save percentage down to .923 on the season.
- Obviously, the 3rd period. The rest of the game went pretty much like clockwork, and then things just unraveled in the last ten minutes, really. Alfredsson’s shorthanded goal was a lucky break for the Sens, and when he and Jason Spezza scored 8 seconds apart on the powerplay, you felt a palpable sense of “oh-no-here-we-go-again” wash over the building. Against a better team, and with a smaller lead, tonight might not have ended so well.
- The defensive zone coverage in the 3rd period really disappeared. The Sens started moving the puck all over the place, and suddenly the Leafs looked as lost as they’d made Ottawa look for most of the game. I’m going to assume it was just a product of thinking that the game was over and kind of sitting back, but this team’s not good enough to take any time off. Sixty minute efforts are an absolute must – every night.