NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 OT SO Tot
Toronto 1 2 1 0 1 5
Ottawa 1 1 2 0 0 4
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, March 18, 2023
Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, Ontario  Attendance: 20,092

Senators seek skid-ending win against Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators

  1. Toronto had won four straight meetings with Ottawa prior to the Senators' 6-2 win in Toronto on January 27, their largest win over the Leafs since March 2019. Only one of those four Leafs wins took place in Ottawa, however -- a 5-4 overtime victory on April 16.
  2. Ottawa dropped a 5-4 decision to Colorado for its fourth straight loss and fifth in six games following a five-game win streak. The Senators have allowed at least five goals in each of those losses, the third time in the last four seasons that they have done so in four straight games; they have not done so in five straight since March 1994.
  3. Tim Stuetzle notched three assists in Thursday's loss, his fourth multi-point effort in five games and 25th overall this season. That is tied for sixth-most in franchise history and marks the most by a Senator since Jason Spezza had 27 multi-point games in 2007-08.
  4. Drake Batherson scored his 20th goal of the season on Thursday, becoming the fifth Senator to reach the milestone. That is tied with the Leafs and three other teams for the most 20-goal scorers in the NHL. Last season, the Senators only had three skaters with 20+ goals, tied for fifth-fewest in the NHL.

The Ottawa Senators have had their opportunities.

However, instead of creeping closer to a playoff spot in the past week, the Senators have dropped further behind in the Eastern Conference wild-card standings heading into their Saturday night matchup against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Senators (33-31-4, 70 points) have lost four in a row to put the brakes on their pursuit of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders for the East's two wild-card spots.

Ottawa is eight points back of those two teams, with 14 games left for the Penguins and Senators and 12 for the Islanders.

Making the playoff run even more uphill for the Senators, the Florida Panthers, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres leapfrogged them in the wild-card standings during Ottawa's losing streak.

Senators captain Brady Tkachuk has 69 points (28 goals, 41 assists) in 68 games this season, surpassing his career high of 67 points set last season in 79 games. However, he is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a fifth straight season.

"It's frustrating because you want to get rewarded for all the hard work," Tkachuk said after Ottawa nearly erased a three-goal deficit at the start of the third period against the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Thursday but ultimately lost 5-4.

Making the four-game skid even more ill-timed is that it prevented the Senators from capitalizing on recent slides by the Penguins and Islanders.

Pittsburgh has dropped its past two games, falling Tuesday to the Montreal Canadiens, the last-place team in the Atlantic Division, and Thursday to the New York Rangers, but still expanded its lead over the Senators by four points in the past week.

The Islanders lost back-to-back games on Saturday against the Capitals and on Tuesday versus the Los Angeles Kings, but they bounced back to beat the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, expanding their lead over Ottawa.

"The season is on the line," Senators forward Claude Giroux said. "It's frustrating when you play hard and the result is not there."

The Maple Leafs (41-18-9, 91 points) are coming off 5-2 win against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. The result extended their lead to three points over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division.

Toronto forward Zach Aston-Reese opened the scoring within the first three minutes on Friday and added a second-period goal.

"It definitely felt good," Aston-Reese said of the early tally. "It's always easy to play the rest of the game when you score on your first shift. They were pretty easy goals for me to put in. (Erik) Gustafsson with a great shot (to deflect), a great move by him too with that little shimmy at the top to get free, and then (Sam) Lafferty with a great saucer pass.

"I was hoping for the third, but I'm happy with the night."

Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly had a goal and an assist against the Hurricanes, giving him goals in back-to-back games after totaling two goals in the first 51 games this season.

The Maple Leafs, who have used seven defensemen in the lineup the past four games, will start Matt Murray in goal on Saturday after Ilya Samsonov made 32 saves against the Hurricanes.

Murray, who played for Ottawa the past two seasons before coming to Toronto in a trade last summer, has allowed four goals in each of his three starts since returning from a five-week absence caused by an ankle injury.

He was set to start against the Senators on Jan. 27 when he was injured during warmups and replaced by Samsonov, who gave up six goals on 34 shots in Ottawa's 6-2 loss.

Murray is 5-1-1 in his career against Ottawa with a .906 save percentage and a 2.73 goals-against average.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 18, 2023

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