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Sens spoil Leafs party with 5-2 win

by Dan Rosen
TORONTO -- The more than 19,500 fans inside Air Canada Centre roared for three of their favorite former Leafs who were being honored prior to the annual Hockey Hall of Fame game.

Once the game started Saturday night, they didn't get many opportunities to bathe their favorite current Leafs in the same type of love.

The Senators spoiled the party here by snapping a five-game winless streak with a 5-2 victory in front of soon-to-be Hall of Fame members Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour and Mark Howe. Gilmour, Nieuwendyk and Belfour all played in Toronto during their illustrious careers.

"This league is about results and we went and got that tonight," Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips said. "It was a big night with the Hall of Fame, and for us to come in on a back-to-back and find some energy to win the last two periods was big for this team."

Ottawa didn't look the least bit tired despite the fact that just 24 hours earlier it suffered its fifth straight defeat and played one of its worst games of the season in a 5-1 loss at Buffalo.

Craig Anderson, who was pulled after giving up two goals in the first two and a half minutes of Friday's game, was sent right back into the nets by coach Paul MacLean. He made the coach look smart by stopping 31 shots for his seventh win of the season and first since Oct. 29.

Nick Foligno scored twice and the Senators got one each from Sergei Gonchar, Zack Smith and Milan Michalek.

Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens made 19 saves in the loss, the Maple Leafs’ third in a row at Air Canada Centre.

"It's a huge confidence lift when the coach comes to you and says you weren't very good the night before, we need more out of you, and you respond," Anderson said. "It's a huge emotional lift knowing that he's got confidence in me and that makes my confidence go higher and higher."

Toronto made it interesting when Joffrey Lupul scored with 2:50 to play in regulation. But, Foligno and Michalek each scored empty-net goals to seal the Senators first win since they beat these same Maple Leafs, 3-2, at Scotiabank Place on Oct. 30.

"We came to compete tonight, came to play," Foligno said. "That's the beautiful thing about this game, sometimes you get to play back-to-back, and right the wrong right away."

The Leafs were guilty of coughing up a 1-0 lead that Tyler Bozak gave them late in the first period, in part because their power play was poor but mostly because they stopped trying to put the pressure on Ottawa.

Inconsistent play is an ongoing problem with Toronto, one captain Dion Phaneuf said comes when a team is trying to "build a winning culture" after years of losing, as the Leafs are attempting now.

"I think we're on our way there, but we're still learning and we're going to have to learn how to win these one-goal games that seem to be slipping away from us," Phaneuf said. "Not being negative, but when we're up by a goal we tend to sit back. We're going to have to learn to keep pushing and to win these kinds of games that we have leads in."

The Leafs had their chances to step on the Senators. Bozak gave them the lead with his first goal of the season at 17:18 of the first period, but their power play went 0-for-5 with only six shots on goal.

MacLean said his team's penalty-kill was the difference.

"Jesse (Winchester) did a good job in the faceoff circle, he was outstanding," MacLean said. "I thought him and (Kaspars) Daugavins as a pair and Erik Condra and Zack Smith as a pair really were outstanding for us as penalty killers. They've really worked hard at learning how to do it here in the National Hockey League and it looks like they've taken big steps here in the last couple of games."

The Senators erased Toronto's 1-0 lead with goals from Gonchar and Foligno in the second period and Smith's third goal of the season just 48 seconds into the third.

Gonchar scored during a delayed Toronto penalty and Foligno gave the Senators the lead with a 5-on-3 goal with 2:14 to play before the second intermission.

For Foligno, it was sweet revenge. Not long before, he left the ice bleeding after the blade of Philippe Dupuis' stick caught him in the face, leading to a double-minor penalty and the Senators two-man advantage.

Bozak went to the box two seconds earlier for a holding minor.

Foligno had to start the power play on the bench with the trainers tending to him, but when he was ready he leapt over the boards with his left nostril stuffed with gauze and went right to the middle, where defenseman Erik Karlsson found him with a picture-perfect pass from center ice.

He was coming with so much speed that he easily split Toronto's defense pair of Mike Komisarek and Jake Gardiner and then wristed a shot through Scrivens' five-hole for the go-ahead goal.

"The adrenaline was pumping, I wanted to get back out there," Foligno said. "It was a nice pass by Erik to get me that breakaway and I was just happy to make good on it."

The Leafs started the third period with a pair of quick and quality chances by Phaneuf in the first 39 seconds. Anderson stopped both shots, and after the second nobody covered for Phaneuf at the point, leading to a 2-on-1 opportunity for the Senators.

Smith cashed in by sending a short-side wrist shot from the left circle past Scrivens.

"We're going to have to figure out how to push the pace for 60 minutes," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said, "and develop that kind of instinct to keep pushing the (other) team down."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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