TORONTO -- Craig Anderson
gave the Ottawa Senators
a chance to win. Kyle Turris
made sure they did.
Anderson made 37 saves and Turris scored the game-winning goal early in the third period as the Ottawa Senators
overcame an early two-goal deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs
3-2 at Air Canada Centre Tuesday night.
With the win, their ninth in 11 games, the surging Senators have 58 points -- just one behind Boston for first place in the Northeast Division, though the Bruins have five games in hand.
The Leafs lost their third game in a row and remained ninth in the East, one point behind eighth-place Washington.
After spotting the Leafs an early 2-0 lead, Daniel Alfredsson
scored with 7.5 seconds left in the first, and Jason Spezza
tied it late in the second to set the stage for Turris' big goal. Turris snapped a high wrister short side past James Reimer
for at 1:24 of the final period for his third goal since being acquired in a trade with Phoenix on Dec. 17.
While his production has been steady rather than spectacular --11 points in 15 games -- Turris has filled the second-line center role that had been a weak spot prior to his arrival.
"I feel like I'm getting more and more comfortable," said Turris, the third player chosen in the 2007 NHL Draft. "I can't thank the guys in the room and the coaching staff enough for the confidence they've shown in me to come in and play my game. It makes a world of difference to have that much confidence to just play and not have to worry about anything."
The Senators are 11-2-2 since Turris joined the team, but the 22-year old refuses to take any credit for the turnaround.
"I've got nothing to do with that," Turris said. "I think Craig Anderson
does and (Spezza) does. We're just having fun as a team, working hard, it's a great atmosphere here and we're doing everything we can to keep it going."
Anderson, making his 10th straight start, stifled the Leafs at every turn in the final two periods, when he stopped all 29 shots he faced to give his chance a team to rally after falling behind by two goals. Anderson, who has a 1.85 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in those 10 games, credited his teammates for the comeback.
"Our leaders stepped up," Anderson said. "(Alfredsson) with a big goal at the end of the first, (Spezza) stepping up. Just individuals stepping up when the time calls and just doing the things that they need to do."
Despite outshooting the Senators 39-21, the Maple Leafs were left to ponder a third straight loss. Tyler Bozak
, who returned to center the top line after missing seven games with a shoulder injury, expressed his team's frustration with the result.
"We had our chances, that's for sure, their goaltender played a great game," Bozak said, "When they got their opportunities they buried them. They got a few bounces. We can't really do anything about that. We're just going to have to keep working hard and hopefully we're on the scoring end of the sheet next game."
Coach Ron Wilson felt his squad played well enough to win.
"We did a lot of things that we needed to do to create offense," Wilson said. "We hit the post a couple times, missed an empty net. They hung around long enough and scored, that's not a goal you want to give up early in the third. All they did was build a wall and frustrate us for the rest of the third."
While Anderson was kept extremely busy in the Ottawa net, Reimer faced only 21 shots and gave up three goals, two of which he disputed.
"I felt that on the first two goals I was interfered with and I didn't have a chance to make the save," said Reimer, who was playing his first game since Dec. 31. "That was the frustrating part."
Matthew Lombardi opened the scoring at 6:51 of the first period, scoring his third of the season on the Leafs' first shot of the game. His wrister from the left wing made a slight deflection off defenseman Chris Phillips
and went through the five-hole of the screened goaltender.
The Leafs top line broke out of its three-game scoring drought to double Toronto's lead at 15:35. Phil Kessel
picked Jared Cowen
's pocket at the Leafs blue line and broke in on a long 2-on-1, holding the puck to draw Anderson and then setting up Joffrey Lupul
for a one-timer into a wide-open net, Lupul's 20th goal of the season.
Alfredsson brought the Senators within one just before the final buzzer. With the Senators swarming and a delayed penalty called on the Leafs, Alfredsson beat Reimer up high with a slick backhand from the slot off a nice passout from Milan Michalek
for his 15th goal.
The Leafs continued to carry the play in the second period, outshooting the Senators 21-9, but were unable to beat Anderson.
The game heated up physically in the second. Nick Foligno
took a clipping penalty for going low on Dion Phaneuf
; later in the period, the two engaged in a spirited fight.
But Ottawa scored the only goal at 16:46, a play upheld after video review. In the midst of a goalmouth scramble, Kaspars Daugavins
directed the puck towards the goal with his skate and Spezza got the last touch on it to put it the open net behind Reimer for his 20th goal of the season.
Both teams get back into action Thursday; the Leafs will host the Minnesota Wild while the Senators six-game road trip continues in San Jose against the Sharks.