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Leafs pummel struggling Senators 5-0

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

KANATA, Ont. – Saturday night's edition of the Battle of Ontario was a tale of two teams heading in different directions.

Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and two assists, while Luke Schenn, Cody Franson and Dion Phaneuf also scored as the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their recent surge by routing the struggling Ottawa Senators 5-0.

The Leafs (27-19-6), who have won five of their last seven, held onto eighth place in the East -- while the Senators (27-21-7) continue to spiral downward; Saturday was their sixth consecutive loss. Scoring continues to be an issue for Ottawa, which has only eight goals in its last six games and hasn't scored an even strength goal in seven periods.

James Reimer recorded his second consecutive shutout and his third of the season, turning away all 49 shots. Craig Anderson, who made his 17th straight start, finished with 35 saves.

"We did what we needed to a couple of nights ago in Pittsburgh and here again tonight," Reimer said. "Right from the get-go I thought we played real smart, honest hockey. We didn't make a lot of mistakes and we were smart with the puck."

For the Leafs' goaltender, getting the second half of the back-to-back shutouts was sweet -- especially in a rival building.

"It's nice, and it's only happened once before in my career, so for it to happen in (Ottawa) it's always a lot of fun," Reimer said. "I wish I could take credit for it but the guys just played unbelievable tonight. Ottawa did a really good job of trying to get the puck in front but our d-men just boxed them, so hats off to them. When the guys are going hard and scoring goals, it boosts your morale."

The Maple Leafs opened the scoring when Jake Gardiner, showing tremendous patience with the puck, dished off to Kessel, who went top-shelf on Anderson at 13:47 to break a personal three-game scoreless streak.

Kessel, who has four goals and five assists against Ottawa this season, insists that there's no secret to his renewed success.

"I think I've had my legs the past few games. I don't think it's (playing against Ottawa) – the puck just found the net tonight," he said.

Toronto made it 2-0 at 17:02 during a power play. With Sergei Gonchar in the box for hooking, Kessel fed the puck to a waiting Phaneuf, who wired a shot from the right faceoff dot past Anderson for his first goal in 11 games.

The Leafs made it 3-0 at 8:25 of the second when Kessel made a gorgeous neutral zone pass to Bozak, who split the defense and beat a sprawling Anderson.

The Leafs poured it on in the third period, when Lupul fed Schenn for his second of the season at 5:39, and added another power-play goal when Franson, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski went back and forth with the puck. Franson regained control and wristed it past Anderson at 12:17.

The Senators had three power plays but couldn't capitalize on their chances. The Leafs have killed off their last 22 shorthanded situations and have yet to allow a power-play goal in their 14 games in 2012.

Colby Armstrong, naturally pleased with the win, also enjoyed coming into an arena crammed with blue and white jerseys.

"We got great goaltending the entire night and (Reimer) has been awesome for us," he said. "We had the "go Leafs go" chant going the whole night, and that was pretty cool to come into Ottawa and have half, or more than half of the building be Toronto Maple Leafs fans."

The Senators, who lost 2-1 in overtime to the New York Islanders at home on Friday, are looking for answers to a slump that is threatening to spoil what's been a surprisingly good season.

"We lose the special teams battles, our power play doesn't score, our penalty kill gets scored on … our five-on-five is probably a fairly even game, but you need some support on your power play and stops from your penalty kill," center Jason Spezza said. "It's kind of the recipe for what was going on when we were winning games. Now we're losing games and those are two contributing factors. We didn't get any puck luck around the net, too.

"There's ups and downs during the season – right now we're in a down point, so it's about how quick we can turn this thing around. There's a cluster of teams fighting it out (for playoff spots). This is no time to quit or get down on ourselves."
 
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