Justin Holl scored the winner in an overtime thriller as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged out the Ottawa Senators by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night.
By Chris Faria
The Sens came into tonight’s game with a season-high five-game point streak on the line, as well as bragging rights in the Battle of Ontario with the season series tied at three wins apiece.
The game got off to a bit of a sluggish start for the Sens as they gave up a few Grade-A chances to both John Tavares and Auston Matthews in the early minutes, though recently acquired netminder Anton Forsberg did well to weather the storm and keep the Leafs off the board.
Despite a handful of power play opportunities split between the two teams, neither side could establish much pressure on the man advantage. In fact, it was the Sens who finally broke the ice while shorthanded. Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell wandered out of the net to play the puck, eventually sending a misplaced pass off the stick of Chris Tierney. The puck bounced right to a streaking Connor Brown in the slot who had a gaping goal to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead with just over a minute to play in the first.
Thank you for the gift! 🎁#GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/fPylATMuel
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 25, 2021
The Maple Leafs came out hungry in the second, looking to tie up the game after Campbell’s miscue. Their best chance came off the stick of Matthews, who received a cross-ice feed from Morgan Rielly. The Leafs’ star had to collect the puck in tight before shooting, giving Forsberg just enough time to slide across and make a glorious glove save.
Morgan Rielly gets a great pass to Matthews, but Anton Forsberg says HELL NO!
Huge glove save. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/jkN76nidRg
— Pesky Sickos (@PeskySickos) March 26, 2021
Although Forsberg stood tall for the first 35 minutes of the game, the Leafs eventually broke through. With just over five minutes to play in the second period, Toronto came down on an odd man rush. Zach Hyman centred the puck to TJ Brodie, whose deflection rung the post before hitting Ilya Mikheyev’s shoulder and bouncing in. The goal was originally waved off but the ruling was overturned after review, tying the game at 1-1.
Ottawa manufactured their best chance of the frame with under a minute to play. Tim Stutzle dangled through the Leafs’ defence and fed a pass to Brady Tkachuk, parked in front of the net, as usual. Tkachuk had a couple stabs but was denied by Campbell, keeping the score tied going into the third.
Toronto looked determined once again in the third, outshooting the Sens 6-0 through the first half of the period. The Leafs would eventually make good on their chances as former Senator Jason Spezza ripped a one-timer from the high slot past Forsberg, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead with just over nine minutes left.
The Senators quickly responded, though, on yet another puck handling error from Toronto’s goaltender. As the puck was dumped into the Maple Leafs’ zone, Campbell awkwardly swiped at the puck, failing to clear it away. The puck remained in the slot where Alex Formenton pounced, sliding it through Campbell’s five hole to tie the score at 2-2 with less than seven to play.
Second career goal for Forms!!! #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/755BrRybIE
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 26, 2021
With neither team able to break the tie, the game headed to overtime – a familiar feeling for the Sens who have now gone to the extra frame in three of their last five outings.
Three-on-three overtime was about as exciting as you’d expect, with both teams trading chances. The Leafs, however, would have the final say. Matthews skated down the right wing and made a move around Thomas Chabot, eventually shooting the puck off the side of the net. Mitch Marner was first to react as he collected the loose puck and found a wide open Justin Holl in the slot, who fired the puck past Forsberg to give Toronto the 3-2 win.
HOLL THE OT HERO!#LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/OBQ148zffJ
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 26, 2021
Despite the loss, Ottawa extended their point streak to six games, collecting nine of 12 points in the process. Forsberg, the Senators’ fifth different goaltender this season, also made a nice first impression on his new club, stopping 38 of 41 shots.
The Senators will get a bit of a break here as they won’t be in action again until next Tuesday when they face off against the Montreal Canadiens.