TORONTO - Ron Wilson has his Toronto Maple Leafs playing some spirited hockey.
The veteran coach had to like what he saw as the Maple Leafs outworked and outshot the slumping Ottawa Senators all night Saturday and earned a 3-2 victory for their efforts. Alexei Ponikarovsky's third-period goal stood up as the winner for a Maple Leafs team that has two straight wins and points in five of six games.
Dominic Moore and Mikhail Grabovsky also scored while Vesa Toskala made 22 saves for Toronto (3-2-3).
Shean Donovan and Dean McAmmond replied for the Senators (2-5-1).
The latest Battle of Ontario had a feisty edge to it, with both teams throwing their weight around right from the opening faceoff. Rookie defenceman Luke Schenn took part in his first NHL fight less than a minute into the game, after Senators agitator Chris Neil caught Matt Stajan with a knee-on-knee hit. The 18-year-old Leafs defenceman held his own against a guy who had already fought 117 times in his career.
Perhaps that sparked a Leafs team that threw all it had at backup goalie Alex Auld, who was given his second consecutive start by coach Craig Hartsburg.
Aided by three power-play opportunities, Toronto poured 21 shots on goal in the first period and took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room. Moore opened the scoring at 14:14 while the Leafs had a man advantage by chipping the puck over a sprawled Auld as several players converged on the Sens crease.
Toronto went ahead 2-0 with Grabovski's long-awaited first goal of the season at 2:15 of the second period. The flashy Belarussian had grown visibly frustrated during his goal-less drought but was smiling widely after taking a nice pass from Niklas Hagman behind the net and lifting a hard wrist shot over Auld's shoulder.
The Maple Leafs were dominating at that point and had Ottawa on the ropes. However, Donovan soon got his team back in the game by tipping an Alexandre Picard shot past Toskala to make it 2-1 at 4:06.
Ponikarovsky restored the two-goal lead at 13:37 of the third period after a scramble in front of Auld before McAmmond scored short-handed at 19:11 to set up a frantic finish. Toskala held strong as the Daniel Alfredsson-Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza trio pushed for the equalizer.
It was a quiet night overall for the Senators stars and that resulted in another loss.
Notes: General Rick Hillier dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff ... Jonas Frogren was scratched for the Leafs, making him the team's seventh different healthy player to sit out a game this season ... Luke Richardson sat out for the Sens ... Ottawa's next game is Monday at Buffalo ... The Maple Leafs stay home and host Tampa Bay on Tuesday ... Senators defenceman Filip Kuba has a point in all eight games this season ... Announced attendance was 19,288.