OTTAWA – Colin Greening struck big in the Battle of Ontario on Saturday night.
Greening had a three-point night and scored with 24 seconds left in regulation as the Ottawa Senators beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at Scotiabank Place.
“You look at the situation, it’s the Battle of Ontario on ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ – it’s a lot a fun. And to score on [my friend Ben Scrivens] – it’s one of those weird situations where you want him to do well, but not too well,” Greening said. “So, I guess you got to do what you got to do.”
Mika Zibanejad and Erik Condra each had two points for the Senators (11-6-2), who are currently on a four-game winning streak. Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur had the goals for Toronto (11-8-0). It was the first Senators’ victory over the Maple Leafs at home since Oct. 30, 2011.
Ben Bishop made 26 saves in his first victory against the Leafs. Scrivens had 32 stops.
The Toronto goaltender was succinct in his response when asked about the Greening goal.
“I’m definitely not happy for him,” Scrivens said.
Toronto struck early in the first period, when Patrick Wiercioch gave up the puck to Nikolai Kulemin in the right corner. Kulemin passed back to Grabovski, who sent a wrist shot from the right faceoff dot through the five hole of Bishop at 3:32.
The Battle of Ontario began to take a physical turn quickly, as the rivals began to battle for space and pucks. Nazem Kadri rocked Jim O’Brien with a monstrous body hit in the Leafs’ zone, knocking the Senators forward to the ice.
Ottawa tied the game 1-1, courtesy of some quality work by the Senators’ younger players. Zibanejad passed across the blue line to Colin Greening, who sent a shot from point towards Scrivens. Zibanejad flew towards the net and deflected the puck into the net with a tip-in at 10:52. The Swede now has two goals in two games.
Zibanejad, like Greening, was recently made a healthy scratch by MacLean. Greening sat out of the Feb. 16 against Toronto, while Zibanejad was held out of the lineup on Feb. 18 against New Jersey. Both players have seen a resurgence since their return – Zibanejad has three points in two games and Greening is riding a five-point scoring streak through three games.
MacLean spoke about relieving the stress of players like Zibanejad and Greening by getting the worst out of the way.
“I think sometimes when you sit a player out, it takes the pressure off,” MacLean said. “Before the games leading up to when you sit them out, they get all pressured up – they get tight and tentative, worried that if they continue to play poorly, you’re going to take them out. When you do [take them out of the lineup], it allows them to reset and start again from a new place.”
The Senators nearly made the score 2-1 early in the second period. Dave Dziurzynski passed the puck from behind the Toronto net to a waiting Zack Smith, who sent a point-blank shot into the chest of Scrivens. The Leafs goaltender bobbled the puck but managed to cover it with his glove before Smith could find the rebound.
After a period that saw end-to-end action and over seven minutes of continuous play, the Senators took the lead late in the second. Condra sent a drop pass to Gryba, who fired on Scrivens, while Condra went to the net. Chaos ensued in front of Scrivens, with the puck ending up in his net at 19:17.
“I thought the second period was very entertaining,” coach Paul MacLean said. “The only people calling for whistles were the coaches, because it was getting out of control out there.”
Toronto tied the game in third period on a power play, after Erik Gryba was called for holding at 5:33. MacArthur’s shot in front of the net deflected off the body and skate of Marc Methot and dribbled through the legs of Bishop at 7:10. It was the tenth power-play goal the Leafs have scored on the road this season.
Prior to Greening’s winning goal, Scrivens froze the puck, leading to a faceoff in the Toronto zone. The goaltender was asked if he thought he made the right decision.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our centers,” Scrivens said. “It’s one of those things – hindsight is always there. You look back and you go, ‘Yeah, I could have played that.’ But at the same time, if I play the puck and then we get hemmed in and they score, everyone’s asking why I didn’t freeze it. It’s one of those where you look back and maybe make a different read next time, but you also have to trust your instincts. It’s a learning lesson, for sure.”