Senators stifle Maple Leafs in shootout
There was good news and bad news for members of Leafs Nation on Thursday night. The good news? Brian Burke is on board. The bad news? A shootout loss in Ottawa.
Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson scored on identical shots in the shootout as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 at Scotiabank Place.
Both skaters fired high to the glove side on Maple Leafs netminder Vesa Toskala, who, otherwise, impressed with a solid 33-save effort through regulation and overtime.
"He made some big saves," Spezza said. "We probably should have won in regulation."
"That was, by far, Vesa's best game," Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson said. "Concentrating, moving, focused and, obviously, making saves.
Alex Auld posted 25 saves in his seventh consecutive start, and foiled rookie Nikolai Kulemin and Lee Stempniak in the shootout.
"Good for all of us," Auld said. "Those are big points and, when it comes down to it, you have got to find a way to get the win."
"We had been looking for a shootout win," Spezza said, mindful that Ottawa had lost its last three shootouts. "Maybe this is the start of a bit of a streak."
Speaking of streaks, Toronto has lost five consecutive games (0-3-2), but is it possible help is on the horizon?
Burke reportedly agreed Thursday to become the next president and general manager of the Maple Leafs, negotiating a six-year contract rumoured to be worth as much as $18 million US.
A formal announcement is anticipated Saturday, when the Maple Leafs host the Philadelphia Flyers (CBC, 6:30 p.m. ET).
"It is going to take me back 35 years, almost to the day, when we met at Providence College," Wilson said. "I'm really excited that Brian is able to get this straightend out."
Mike Fisher, who sat out the past two games with an injured knee, scored in regulation for the Senators (8-9-4), losers in six of their previous seven games.
"It is always nice to come back and contribute a little bit," he said. "We stayed patient and stuck with it.
"It has been tough going and getting wins, so it is always nice to do that. We have got to keep rolling." Kulemin replied for the Maple Leafs (7-9-6).
Rookie enforcer Andre Deveaux made his NHL debut with Toronto, replacing injured forward Jason Blake (concussion).
"It was a pretty chippy game," he said. "It was a lot quicker pace than I'm used to."
Fisher was credited with his third goal of the season 3:54 into the contest when he sent a backhand pass to Shean Donovan, only to have the puck bank off the left skate of defenceman Tomas Kaberle and into the net.
Toronto tied it 59 seconds later on a nifty play by rookie Mikhail Grabovski, who circled behind the net and fed the puck through the crease to Kulemin for a tap-in at the right post.
It was Kulemin's fourth goal of the campaign.
Senators sniper Dany Heatley was denied on a pair of one-timers, the second from point-blank range on a crafty pass from Alfredsson.
Likewise, Chris Kelly had two glorious chances to break the deadlock, but he was turned away on both occasions by a sliding Toskala.
"Toskala was great in the third," Alfredsson said. "He made a couple of great saves and he got them the point."
"They have got some great offensive players," Wilson said. "He was ready for the task."
With files from the Canadian Press