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game recap

Senators defeat Maple Leafs in Phaneuf's return

Smith scores late in third to help Ottawa win at Toronto

by Mike Brophy / Correspondent

Smith gives Senators late lead

OTT@TOR: Smith scores on one-timer for go ahead goal

3/5/16: After another turnover by the Maple Leafs, Zack Smith quickly scores on a one-timer from Mark Stone to give the Senators a 3-2 lead

  • 00:50 •

TORONTO -- Dion Phaneuf said it was perfect closure. 

The 30-year-old defenseman enjoyed a successful homecoming when his Ottawa Senators scored twice in the third period to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

The former Maple Leafs captain was playing his first game in Toronto since being traded to the Senators on Feb. 9. He was given a video tribute and standing ovation in the first period. 

"I feel a lot better now than I did before," Phaneuf said. "I just want to thank the fans for what they did. It meant a lot to me. That was some good closure, really classy by them."

Video: OTT@TOR: Maple Leafs pay respect to former captain

Zack Smith broke a 2-2 tie with 2:15 left in the third period. A giveaway by Toronto defenseman Martin Marincin allowed Ottawa forward Mark Stone to direct a pass to Smith in front of the net. 

The Senators (31-28-7) ended a two-game losing streak. The Maple Leafs (21-33-10) have lost five in a row and six of their past seven. 

"I thought we had lots of things going good," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "I didn't like the goals we gave up in the third period, especially that last one. I thought we were in a real good situation and ended up not being above the puck at the end and turning it over. That's unfortunate after you work real hard to give yourself a chance. You want to win games; you don't just want to be close." 

Phaneuf played seven seasons in Toronto, with 45 goals and 196 points in 423 games. 

He played 21:55 Saturday and fought Maple Leafs forward Colin Greening -- who was part of the nine-player trade -- in the first period. Phaneuf had four shots on goal and one hit. 

Video: OTT@TOR: Nylander gets first goal on special assist

The Senators started Phaneuf and the puck rolled to him off the opening faceoff. He bobbled it and the puck was scooped by Toronto forward Brooks Laich, who drove hard to the net and took a backhand that was stopped by Ottawa goaltender Andrew Hammond.  

"Look at the first shift and wow, I thought it was going to be a long night," Phaneuf said. "I bobbled the puck off the start, give them that chance to [score]. I didn't feel my best to start and then after the tribute obviously I was emotional, I kind of dialed in. I said I've got to be better than I was for this team, they deserve better than the way I started." 

The video during a first-period stoppage showed highlights of Phaneuf's time with the Maple Leafs, and he had tears in his eyes sitting on the Senators bench. 

"I'm an emotional guy," Phaneuf said. "I said that this morning. I wasn't lying, was I?"

Video: OTT@TOR: Methot beats Bernier to tie it in the 3rd

Three seconds after play resumed, Bobby Ryan scored to give the Senators a 1-0 lead. The goal came after a faceoff win in the Maple Leafs zone. Toronto defenseman Matt Hunwick lost the puck in his skates, allowing Ryan to take it and shoot past goalie Jonathan Bernier at 6:06 for his 22nd goal. 

Phaneuf and Greening fought at 7:22. 

Toronto tied it 1-1 when 19-year-old rookie William Nylander scored his first NHL goal at 9:27. The No. 8 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft took a wrist shot from the high slot that went in off the left post. 

Laich had the assist on Nylander's goal. Laich also had an assist on the last NHL goal by Nylander's father, Michael Nylander (209), on April 5, 2009 for the Washington Capitals against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Toronto took a 2-1 lead at 12:10 of the second period when rookie forward Nikita Soshnikov took a pass from Brendan Leipsic and snapped a shot past Hammond for his second goal. The power-play goal came with Smith serving a minor for goaltender interference.

Video: OTT@TOR: Hammond stands tall to keep game tied

Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot tied it 2-2 at 2:56 of the third period when he moved in from his point position, got a loose puck in the slot, and delivered a backhand past Bernier. It was Methot's fourth goal. 

Babcock said he was pleased the fans gave Phaneuf a standing ovation. 

"I thought it was great," Babcock said. "The guy I know is a great, great guy and he'll be good for them. It's not by accident he has an 'A' on his sweater. Those things don't just happen. He's a good man and he was good for the franchise. He tried to help out and shielded lots of players here by taking the brunt of a lot of the negativity." 

Hammond said Phaneuf has been a positive influence on the Senators. 

"He has been huge," Hammond said. "From Day One he took guys under his wing, and to come into a new locker room can be an intimidating thing, and for him to step in and be that veteran presence and help some of our younger guys has been huge."

Video: Phaneuf, Senators win in return to Toronto

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