1. Senators take physical tact in opening period, bring 1-0 lead into middle frame.
The Leafs had a three-game win streak entering this game, but Toronto found itself trailing 1-0 after one period and dealing with a physical Sens team that controlled much of the play while outshooting the Buds 13-8 heading into the first intermission. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen played well in limiting Ottawa to a single goal in the first, and only a sustained push at the side of the net to Andersen's right resulted in forward Nate Thompson poking the puck in to give the home team the first advantage of the night at the 12:01 mark.
Toronto's offence has been regularly excellent thus far this season, but it couldn't solve Sens goalie Craig Anderson in the first. And with the fact the Senators were still seeking their first home win in their fifth attempt of the year, it was clear Ottawa was the hungrier team early on.
2. Ottawa builds lead in second via goals from Dzingel, Brassard, hold Leafs off scoresheet again.
Toronto was a stronger squad in the second and finished the frame tied in shots with 11 apiece in the period, but the veteran Anderson - who struggled in his previous two games of the year, posting a sub-.900 save percentage both times - looked assured and technically strong, and the Senators' defence prevented the Leafs from getting high-quality second-chance scoring attemps. As a result, the Buds were held off the scoresheet for the second straight period, and entered the third trailing 3-0.
As was the case with the Sens' first goal, Andersen couldn't be faulted for Ottawa's second or third markers, which were respectively scored by winger Ryan Dzingel at 14:20 of the second and centre Derick Brassard at 19:48; Dzingel did a masterful job of deflecting blueline Erik Karlsson's shot past Andersen, and Brassard used his skate to deftly control a cross-ice feed from Bobby Ryan, kick it up to his stick, and fire it underneath Andersen's arm to give the Senators a 3-0 lead 12 seconds before the second intermission.
The Sens have been one of the more unheralded teams in the NHL in recent years, but at their best, they're a determined bunch with an opportunistic group of forwards and a solid netminder, and they're capable of giving any opponent in the league a difficult game. The Leafs knew this heading in, but they couldn't make the most of their chances in close around Anderson, and the Senators did.
3. Toronto gets first goal on van Riemsdyk deflection early in third; Matthews quickly follows up with another to cut Sens' lead to one.
As is normally the case in every Battle of Ontario, a slew of the visiting team's fans made their way to their opponent's arena, and Leafs supporters in Ottawa Saturday were elated to see their favourite team register their first goal of the game when blueliner Ron Hainsey shot the puck from the Sens' blueline, and winger James van Riemsdyk tipped it just past Anderson exactly six minutes into the third period.
That gave Toronto an infusion of confidence, and the effect on its attack was nearly immediate: two minutes and 34 seconds after van Riemsdyk scored, centre Auston Matthews took the puck at his own blueline, quickly played a game of give-and-go with linemate William Nylander, and snapped it into the net to bring the Buds within a single goal of the Sens at the 8:34 mark. It's becoming somewhat of a regular thing this year to see the Leafs generate two or more goals in a manner of a few minutes, and given how dangerous Matthews and his teammates can be in the offensive zone, that's likely to continue.
4. Senators use time-out, rapid answer-back to retake multi-goal lead, but Nylander's power play marker brings Buds within a goal again.
Toronto's momentum looked to be only on the rise after van Riemsdyk and Matthews combined to make it 3-2 for the Senators, but Ottawa head coach Guy Boucher took a time out at that point to steady his charges, and the Sens players responded in the best way - by going out on the first shift after the time out ended and scoring to make it 4-2.
Winger Mark Stone got that goal - his fourth of the season - just seven seconds after Matthews netted his team-best seventh of the year. However, the Sens gave the Leafs a chance to get back within game-tying distance when winger Alexandre Burrows took an interference penalty at 11:56, and that's exactly what Toronto did: the Buds got their ninth power play marker at 12:52 on a pinpoint precision shot by Nylander for his third of the season, and the Leafs had some seven minutes left in regulation to try and send the contest to extra time.
5. Sens surge ahead, cement win thanks to Anderson's big stops and two-goal games from Stone, Brassard.
The Leafs nearly did complete the comeback with a little less than four minutes left in regulation when winger Mitch Marner was on the precipice of scoring, but he was stymied by Anderson - and on the ensuing play, Ottawa quickly transitioned the puck to the other end of the ice and Brassard registered his second of the game and sixth of the year to put the Senators ahead 5-3 with 3:30 remaining.
Leafs coach Mike Babcock went to a six-man skating attack shortly thereafter, but the Sens got an empty-net goal from Stone at the 18:21 mark to seal the win and give Toronto just its second loss of the season. Toronto now heads home for three games at ACC before swinging out west for its annual California road trip, and the surging L.A. Kings are first-up Monday night. The Kings have only lost once in regulation in seven games this year, and they're on a four-game win streak of their own, so the Leafs will need to shake this loss off in short order.