Power play sparks Sens past Leafs
Sunday, 10.30.2011 / 10:08 PM
Erin Nicks - NHL.com CorrespondentKANATA, Ont.
– The Ottawa Senators
are on a six-game winning streak, yet they're only just beginning to find their identity.
and Chris Neil
scored via the man advantage and Kaspars Daugavins
added his first career NHL goal as the Sens earned a 3-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs
on Sunday night at Scotiabank Place.
"Special teams are going to be big for us all year," Jason Spezza
said. "When you're a young hockey club, if you can play 5-on-5 even up and win your specialty teams battles, you're going to win most nights."
Toronto's Clarke MacArthur
had two goals, and has now tallied four points in the last two nights after netting a goal and an assist during Saturday's 4-3 win against Pittsburgh.
Ottawa currently has 12 goals on the power play, and leads the League at 31 percent. Greening has contributed a significant amount to the Sens' success, and is happy with the opportunity to play 5-on-4.
"If they want to (put me in front of the net during the power play), that's fine," Greening said. "I'm a big body, I can make it hard for (the other team), I can screen goalies and I can make it hard for them to see the puck. When you have talented shooters like (Milan) Michalek, Spezza and (Sergei) Gonchar … obviously they're able to shoot around me, which is nice. But I think it works. And as long as they want to put me there, I'll stay there."
With the exception of the first goal, the Senators dominated the Leafs for the majority of the game. The Leafs took the lead in the first, when MacArthur wired an easy feed from Mikhail Grabovski
past Robin Lehner
on the power play at 11:20. But when the Sens knotted things up on Greening's goal at 16:16 (courtesy of a beautiful outlet pass from David Rundblad
), Toronto coach Ron Wilson could sense trouble.
"The first goal they scored against us, we got caught napping," Wilson said. "That had a big impact on that game. Up to that point, we had a 1-0 lead and I thought we were in pretty good control. We had our forecheck going. A team like Ottawa, they're no different than us, if they can get a goal like that, it kind of lights the candle, and they played pretty well after that."
Ottawa pulled ahead in the second on the power play when Erik Karlsson
's slap shot was tipped by Neil at 7:59. The Senators' defenseman now leads all blueliners with 12 assists and 13 points.
Daugavins made it 3-1 when his wrist shot from just inside the blue line flew past Gustavsson at 7:08 of the third. The 23-year-old, who was recalled from Binghamton on Oct. 24, grinned as he described his first goal.
"I'm pretty excited tonight," Daugavins said. "To finally get that feeling in my career was pretty awesome. Especially to help the team win, that was pretty nice. I got the puck in the neutral zone from Zack Smith
, and I heard him screaming to get the puck to the net because (Bobby) Butler was there. To be honest, I tried to shoot for a rebound, but it went in, so that was fortunate."
The Leafs pulled back within one when MacArthur banged home a rebound from Grabovski at 9:07. The Leafs would continue to press in the third, but failed to notch the equalizer.
"We just turned it on too late in the game," MacArthur said. "We've got to give them credit; they had good back pressure tonight. In the first two periods, we didn't make great first passes, and nothing was clicking through the neutral zone. They were log-jamming us. We had some good chances, but you can't always expect to come back and win games like that."
MacArthur came close to a hat trick tonight, when he nearly tipped a one-timer from Nikolai Kulemin
that skidded across Lehner's crease for the goaltender's biggest save of the night. The Ottawa netminder, who made 23 stops in his first start of the season, was quick to deflect any praise towards him.
"I got to give the team a lot of credit because I didn't have much to do," Lehner said.