Toronto Maple Leafs (27-39-6) at Ottawa Senators (35-24-11)
|Date & Time||Saturday March 21, 2015, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Ottawa Senators -225 / Toronto Maple Leafs +201 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The entire league has been captivated by the performance of Andrew Hammond of the Ottawa Senators. Since he has stepped into the lineup for the Senators they seem to be winning every single night. It’s actually 13-1-1 over their last 15 games, and if they had started him the first time they played the Boston Bruins they might actually be in a playoff spot right now. Dave Cameron didn’t make the same mistake this time around when the Bruins came to the Canadian Tire Center on Thursday night. On this night however it wasn’t Hammond that was the difference maker for once. These two clubs came out flying, and Kyle Turris opened the scoring for Ottawa just 19 seconds in. It sent the crowd into a frenzy but it didn’t last long as the Bruins would answer just 40 seconds later to even the score. Boston would then take the lead just after the four minute mark, but Ottawa would even things this time on Milan Michalek’s 13th goal of the season. Instead of getting a defensive struggle as expected, both goaltenders really struggled all night long. David Legwand gave the Senators the lead with his ninth goal of the season early in the second period, and then another wild sequence would ensue later in the period. With Eric Gryba off the ice for a double minor high sticking penalty, the Bruins would even the score before watching Ottawa answer short handed just 15 seconds after. This was one of those games that was back and forth all night long, so that meant the Bruins would tie things up at 4-4 a little over a minute later. Things settled down in the third period as both clubs tried to play a more defensive game, but Bobby Ryan was able to snap the tie for good with his 18th goal of the season. Kyle Turris scored his second goal of the night into the empty net and the 6-4 Ottawa win moved them to within two points of the final playoff spot with all the momentum in the world. With a cupcake schedule the rest of the way the Senators really have a chance to finish off this run.
Things have been going just the opposite for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, and the end can’t come soon enough. The Leafs have lost seven of their last eight games and they’ve been out scored 12-3 during the last three. Not only are they getting absolutely putrid goaltending from Jonathan Bernier, but they aren’t getting any goals from Phil Kessel. None of these players are this bad, but the atmosphere that has permeated this organization has had some terrible effects. It seems almost impossible for any of these players to focus on the task at hand and remain positive with the way that things are going lately. This entire team is going to be blown up in the off season and a lot of these players don’t know where they’re going to end up. Firing Randy Carlyle earlier in the season seemed like something that made some sense at the time, but it turned out to be the match that sparked the fire. Thursday night the Leafs returned home to host the San Jose Sharks, and they couldn’t even find a way to compete with another club that is in turmoil. Toronto allowed three second period goals after trailing 1-0 after one as the Sharks sent them to a 4-1 defeat. Jake Gardiner scored the only goal for Toronto in the loss. Jonathan Bernier played better in this game than he has recently, but still allowed four goals on 42 shots to take the loss.
It’s hard to imagine the Senators losing this game on Saturday night. While it’s possible the Maple Leafs will be able to steal some points from the Sens the rest of the way, it’s hard to see them doing so in Ottawa.