Forget about a goaltender debate. Special teams have become a bigger issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs on the young NHL season.
Daniel Alfredsson scored Ottawa's second power-play goal of the game late in the third period Thursday night, while the visiting Leafs failed to score on all seven of their man advantages in a 3-2 loss.
Senators Andrej Meszaros, left, and Dany Heatley celebrate the team's first goal on Thursday.
(Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
"I think we're concerned about taking [the penalties]. I think Ottawa's probably concerned about taking them," said Toronto coach Paul Maurice, who felt the play that produced Alfredsson's winner was a tough break.
"The Chad Kilger one … he got his stick stuck in the glass and I guess he's supposed to release his stick, but he's not trying to hold anyone up. It was clear early on that those were, for the most part, going to get called tonight and we took too many of them."
With Kilger serving a holding penalty, Alfredsson fired a shot over Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala's shoulder with 4:59 left for the winner.
"I didn't have much to shoot at, but I was able to put it in the corner," Alfredsson said.
He opened the scoring midway through the first period and had three goals in two games against Toronto to help the Senators sweep the home-and-home series.
Linemate Dany Heatley, who scored the overtime winner in the season opener Wednesday, added a goal and an assist to give him 17 goals and 33 points in 17 games against the Leafs as a Senator.
Sundin matches Sittler's goal mark
Scoring for Toronto was Matt Stajan and Mats Sundin, who evened the game 2-2 in the second period with his 389th goal as a Maple Leaf to tie Darryl Sittler for the team record. Sundin also moved to within four points of Sittler's franchise mark of 916.
"I'm very proud of that [goal], it's something I'll enjoy more at the end of the season obviously [as] we're right in the middle of things," Sundin said. "I'm proud of being in a group with Darryl Sittler."
Goaltender Vesa Toskala, who lost three exhibition games while posting a 4.69 goals-against average, was sensational in his Maple Leafs debut with 26 saves, including several of the difficult variety.
He kept Toronto in the game through the opening two periods and then denied Chris Neil from the top of the crease early in the third. Toskala had to be sharp early in the game and made good saves off of chances by Anton Volchenkov and Heatley.
"I gave us a chance to win," he said. "I think we for sure deserved at least a point from this game."
Despite the off-season acquisition of Toskala, in which Toronto general manager John Ferguson surrendered three draft picks, Andrew Raycroft got the start Wednesday and yielded four goals on 30 shots.
Senators goalie Martin Gerber made 41 saves on Thursday before a sold-out crowd of 19,857 at Scotiabank Place.
After Alfredsson beat Toskala glove side, Heatley notched his 23rd career goal against Toronto when Spezza's shot deflected off his right skate in the crease.
A double-minor to Redden inside the two-minute mark of the second period gave Toronto a four-minute power play that failed to produce a goal.
Steen has goal taken away
The Maple Leafs had a goal disallowed midway through the frame when newcomer Jason Blake drove the net but was denied by Gerber. Alex Steen deposited the puck in the net but referee Eric Furlatt ruled Blake made contact with Gerber that prevented him from making the save.
Gerber stood tall in the game's first 30 minutes despite struggling with his puck control, but allowed the Maple Leafs to strike twice in 32 seconds to make it a 2-2 game late in the second period.
Sundin jammed a rebound through the Senators netminder's legs for his first goal of the season and then watched Stajan poke in a loose puck during a goalmouth scramble at the 16:16 mark.
Steen, who started the play by driving the net, drew the lone assist. Much is expected from Steen and Stajan, who improved their conditioning over the summer.
"We know we have to make a difference for this team to make the playoffs," Stajan told Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada between periods. "We have to get guys in front of the net and that's what we did on my goal."
Prior to the game, the Senators raised a banner to commemorate the Eastern Conference title they won last spring. To celebrate the start of the Senators' 15th season, former Ottawa captain and Maple Leaf Laurie Boschman dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.
The New York Rangers visit Ottawa on Saturday (CBC, 7 p.m. ET, Ottawa region only), while Toronto hosts the Montreal Canadiens (CBC, 7 p.m. ET).With files from the Canadian Press