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Leafs vs Sens

February 5, 2012

The latest edition of the Battle of Ontario was hosted by Ottawa on Saturday night. Toronto came into the game looking for a consistent effort after a week of ups and downs resulting in a shootout loss and a shutout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators entered Saturday hoping to put an end to a streak of five consecutive losses. Both teams are on the bubble for reaching the playoffs.

The Leafs opened the scoring in the first period with a goal from their recently slumping all-star winger, Phil Kessel. This was followed by a goal from captain Dion Phaneuf on the powerplay. Both teams pressed hard, with a number of good hits and double-digit shots on goal. Toronto took a 2-0 lead into the second period.

It appears that while Toronto did learn from its loss against the Penguins on Tuesday, they were still frequently penned in their own zone and allowing multiple shots on net in a single shift. But their goaltending (and how many times can we really say this) was up to the task and they used their tremendous transition game to increase the lead to three on a Tyler Bozak breakaway.

Up until Tuesday, the Leafs had been golden when leading after 2 periods, but that loss drove home the need to keep the pressure on, especially against a team well-known for third period heroics. After the Bozak’s goal, it seemed like every tough on the Sens bench was trying to goad a Leaf into a fight.  No takers.  Luke Schenn and Mike Brown both turned down offers as Toronto stuck to its recent game plan to stay disciplined and reduce the number of chances they gave the opposition to shell their weak penalty kill.

Photo courtesy of Toronto Maple Leafs

Goals from Schenn and Cody Franson put the game out of reach and James Reimer pitched his second shutout in consecutive games for the win. It looks like Optimus Reim has recovered his mojo, to the delight of Leafs fans who took advantage of the opportunity to retaliate against the Sens fanbase for the booing of Kessel, Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul at the recently held NHL All-Star game.  Hearty chants of ‘Go Leafs Go’ were clearly heard throughout the third period and rousing cheers were provided for the three stars of the game: Reimer, Kessel and Lupul.

Its just one game, but the keys to Leafs success were definitely back on track: Reimer looked confident and solid in net, John-Michael Liles was a significant addition on a blue line that contributed 3 goals and the Lupul/Kessel combination was at their dazzling best.

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