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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Senators - 02/18/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators Saturday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

1. Senators stake out two-goal lead with pair of goals near end of opening period. The Leafs outshot the Senators 15-14 in the first 20 minutes of action Saturday and had three power play opportunities through that span, but it was their division rivals who struck first: the Sens hemmed Toronto into their zone for an extended stretch, and after goalie Frederik Andersen made a terrific left pad save to keep the game scoreless, defenseman Chris Wideman scored his fourth of the year at the 17:26 mark to make it 1-0.

Only 20 seconds after Wideman's goal, Ottawa doubled its lead on centre Ryan Dzingel's 12th of the year, and just like that, the Leafs found themselves in a significant hole entering the second frame. Toronto's defensive coverage was not at its best, and, combined with a strong start from veteran Sens netminder Craig Anderson, that was enough to give the visitors the boost they were seeking.

Video: OTT@TOR: Rielly rips long-range wrister into the net

2. Leafs kill off 5-on-3 penalty kill for nearly two minutes, storm back to tie game late in second. Toronto began the second frame in much the same manner as they played the first: Ottawa was playing a highly physical and effective game against them, keeping them away from the puck and getting pressure on them in their own zone. Things looked troubling when Matt Martin and Zach Hyman were called for minor penalties 11 seconds apart starting at 9:29 of the period, but the Leafs' penalty killers were focused and killed off a 5-on-3 Sens power play for the full 1:49. And that gave the Buds a chance to come back, which is exactly what they did toward the end of the period.

Toronto's first goal of the night came from defenceman Morgan Rielly, who fired a shot from the blueline through traffic in front of Anderson for his third goal of the season at 14:38. And 3:14 later, centre Nazem Kadri banked the puck off Dzingel's helmet from behind the net to register his 24th of the year and tie the contest at two goals apiece. Ottawa still outshot the Buds 16-10 in the frame, but it was the Leafs who had the momentum as the third period loomed.

Video: OTT@TOR: Nylander, Matthews combine for nifty PPG

 3. Nylander, Matthews work together to put Toronto ahead on power play early in third. The Leafs gained confidence as the game unfolded, and when they pressured the Senators into a penalty just 45 seconds into the third period, their power play went to work and gave them their first lead of the game at the 2:04 mark on winger William Nylander's 16th goal of the season.

Nylander, who had the secondary assist on Rielly's goal, took a brilliant cross-ice feed from Matthews (who had the primary assist on Rielly's goal) on the play, and snapped it past Andersen for Toronto's first extra-man goal in four attempts. The two haven't played regularly in recent weeks, but both Matthews and Nylander are creative playmakers who also can finish, and they proved as much on Toronto's third goal of the night.

4. Sens tie it, move ahead on goals from Hoffman, Brassard. Ottawa was not deterred after Nylander's goal, and a perfect shot from winger Mike Hoffman at the 5:32 mark of the third evened the score at 3-3. The Leafs then gave them another chance on the power play just 40 seconds later - and this time, the Senators converted quickly, as centre Derick Brassard scored his 10th of the year only 14 seconds into the power play to put them back ahead of Toronto. As regularly noted in this space, teams can only give the opposition so many chances with the extra man before they get bitten, and that was the case Saturday.

5. Leafs press late, but Stone scores empty-netter to seal victory for Ottawa. The Leafs pulled Andersen late in the third for the extra attacker and a shot at tying it, but Ottawa's Anderson was stellar between the pipes when he needed to be, and winger Mark Stone scored an empty-net goal with 1:50 left in regulation to give the visitors the insurance marker. Stone added an assist on another empty-netter with 45 seconds left to give him a five-point game - a goal and four assists - and hand the Leafs their second straight loss.

Toronto heads to Carolina Sunday to take on the Hurricanes later that night, but they'll need a better defensive effort if they're to keep pace in the competitive Eastern Conference playoff race. Too many power play chances for their opponents, and too many lapses in defensive coverage, will almost always result in a defeat.

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