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Sens win season finale in overtime

by Matt Tidcombe @matttidcombe

The Ottawa Senators concluded its 2020-21 season with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre. 

Josh Norris buried the game-winning goal while Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown and Parker Kelly scored in regulation. Filip Gustavsson made 30 saves for the Senators (23-28-5). Jake Muzzin, John Tavares and Auston Matthews had goals for Toronto (35-13-7) while Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots.

"I'm just proud of the guys, the last little bit since we were out of it with a couple of months to go, I feel that maybe besides a few periods here and there, we played hard right to the end, win or lose," Sens head coach D.J. Smith said. "These guys are getting better and it's good to see.

"It's sad to see it end but it's exciting going forward."

It took all of nine seconds for the Sens to win in overtime as Brady Tkachuk stole the puck from Morgan Reilly before feeding Norris who beat Andersen five-hole for his 17th of the year.

"What a way to end the season," Norris said. "Great end of the year from the team. We played so well down the stretch and that's very exciting and I think we're just happy with how it went and we want to carry that into next year."

Zaitsev had the lone goal of the first as with 1:08 left in the period he ripped a slap shot from the top of the right circle that hit the far post and went in as he scored his fourth of the season.

The Maple Leafs tied the game at 6:01 of the second as Muzzin blasted in a one-timer on the power play off of Joe Thornton's pass for his fourth of the campaign.

Ottawa re-took the lead at 9:07 as Brown scored his league leading fifth short-handed goal as he burst in on Andersen who made the initial save but couldn't find the puck in his feet and Brown was able to bury his career high 21st of the season on the rebound as he squeezed it past Andersen and a sliding Auston Matthews.

The lead was 3-1 at 12:12 as on a delayed penalty, Erik Brannstrom's shot careened off of the backboards where a debuting Kelly fired the puck towards the net from the goal line to the right of the net where it just crossed the line before the Maple Leafs goaltender could get his glove on it as he scrambled back across his crease.

"I was just like 'did that just happen?'" Kelly said. "It was funny with the suspense of the video review. It's something I'll never forget. I feel really blessed and thankful to have an opportunity like that."

Tavares cut Ottawa's lead to 3-2 at 16:29 as he scored a one-timer from the slot for his 19th after William Nylander's pass out front from behind the net before Matthews sent the game to overtime with 2:38 left in regulation as he scored his 41st goal of the year.

By scoring tonight, the Sens were the only team in the league to score in every game this season.

"It's nice to win the last one of the year," Brown said. "You go out on a good note and I think us the City of Ottawa have a lot to look forward to next year."

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