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Scrivens, Maple Leafs blank struggling Senators 3-0

by Neil Acharya

TORONTO -- Earlier this season, Ben Scrivens said he hoped he could combine with James Reimer to be part of a "two-headed monster" in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He took a big stride toward that goal on Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Scrivens stopped 34 shots for his first NHL shutout as the Maple Leafs (9-6-0) beat the Senators (7-6-2) 3-0 at Air Canada Centre for their fifth win in six games.

Scrivens, recently forced into a starting role with Reimer out due to a lower-body injury, was at his best in the second period when he turned aside all 19 shots from an Ottawa team missing three of its big guns -- defenseman Erik Karlsson, center Jason Spezza and forward Milan Michalek.

Scrivens denied Sergei Gonchar's deflection early in the period, got his shoulder on Eric Condra's blast from the slot and denied good chances by Zack Smith and rookie Derek Grant.

He's now 3-3-0 with a .927 save percentage and the shutout -- but he was the first to admit that he had plenty of help against Ottawa.

"Yeah, feels good," Scrivens said. "Mostly it's gratitude for the guys playing well in front of me.

"Any goalie will tell you a shutout is a team stat, and the guys definitely helped me out big time tonight. They let me see the puck, they cleared away second chances so much of the credit goes to them."

Frazier McLaren and Tyler Bozak scored against Ottawa's Craig Anderson before John-Michael Liles hit the empty net in the final minute.

McLaren got his first goal as a Maple Leaf at 3:14 of the opening period, shoveling the rebound of Mark Fraser's shot behind Anderson. Known more for his toughness, McLaren was able to get in scoring position behind Senators defenseman Marc Methot for his second career goal. The other came on Nov. 29, 2009, as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

"I haven't been with the new club for too long and it's exciting to get my first goal as a Leaf and especially get one at home," McLaren said. "It was just a great point shot and I got a piece of it as it was going in...[The last NHL goal I scored] was a couple of years ago and it was against Roberto Luongo in Vancouver…it's been a while."

With Mike Brown returning from injury, McLaren was projected to be a scratch; instead, , coach Randy Carlyle kept him in the lineup and removed David Steckel. Jay McClement spent time centering the fourth line and was instrumental in setting up the opening tally.

McClement controlled the puck off the cycle and found Fraser for the point shot, earning him the second assist on the play.

McLaren's goal was a rude awakening for a trio of recent call-ups by the Senators. Defenseman Eric Gryba along with forwards Dave Dziurzynski and Grant, all playing in their first NHL game, were on the ice when the goal was scored.

After a scoreless second period in which Ottawa controlled most of the play, Bozak gave the Leafs some insurance at 8:32 of the third. The Senators argued that Bozak kicked Dion Phaneuf's slap pass behind Anderson, but the goal was allowed after a video review.

Bozak, who had a goal called back on a similar play against the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 4, admitted he was not sure if the goal would stand.

"I was looking over," Bozak said jokingly. "That first one I had [against the Hurricanes] I didn't think was a kicking motion so I was hoping they wouldn't do it to me again."

The Senators began to go hard to the net after the midway point in the third, but their dogged pursuit of a goal may have cost them an attempt to get back in the game. Mika Zibanejad was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference at 13:55, leaving the Senators down a man at a key time in the game.

"When you are struggling with goals you want to go hard to the net," Smith said of the penalty. "Unfortunately that happens sometimes, you get calls like that but that is what Mika is supposed to do. You can't hold anything against him."

Scrivens was not fazed by the contact.

"They were going to the net hard, they are obviously trying to score as the game wound down but I don't think it was a concerted effort to bump and grind in front [of the net]," he said.

The 26-year-old deflected attention away from his personal milestone but his teammates were quick to credit him with keeping them in the game.

"We are trying to focus a lot on defensive play but for [the win] you have to give most of the credit to Scrivens," Bozak said. "They had their chances, they had their odd-man rushes and he stood tall in there and he played a heck of a game for us. We had our lapses that we have to get better at but he was there to keep us in it."

Liles scored his first of the season into the empty net with 38 seconds left.

Anderson, who entered the game with a League-leading .949 save percentage, stopped 26 shots, including an excellent right pad stop on James Van Riemsdyk in the second period.

Blanked on the scoresheet and with some of their top offensive threats sidelined indefinitely, the Senators tried to stay upbeat after losing for the fourth time in five games.

"We are disappointed in not scoring and getting anything out of the game, but if we continue to play the way we did, with the determination that we did tonight, we are going to get some wins." Senators coach Paul Maclean said.

Smith, who finished the night with four shots, echoed that sentiment.

"You have to stay positive or you are not going to get anything done," Smith said. "It's a short season so I hope we can figure it out soon and hopefully the puck starts going in for us."

Prior to the opening faceoff, Toronto celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Maple Leafs team that won the Stanley Cup. Nine players from that team are now in the Hall of Fame -- including Dave Keon who made a rare appearance at Air Canada Centre for the ceremony.

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