Toronto Maple Leafs falls short in furious comeback against Senators

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5: Zach Smith
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5: Zach Smith /

The Toronto Maple Leafs enter the bye week with a bitter taste in their mouths, after losing the battle on Ontario against the Ottawa Senators.

So close, but yet so far – that was the narrative for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night. After falling behind 2-0 early in the second period, they battled back to tie the game at 3-3, before allowing the winning goal with just over three minutes remaining in the contest.

Depending on your perspective, the Leafs were either extremely unlucky or got exactly what they deserved. Regardless, the end result was they lost 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators.

In fairness to the Leafs, they faced a fantastic effort from Senators goaltender, Craig Anderson. He finished the night with 45 saves and was deservedly awarded the first star of the game.

Meanwhile, Frederik Andersen endured a nightmare, as he allowed four goals on 32 attempts. However, as has often been the case this season, the players in front of him didn’t help.

In that respect, Morgan Rielly — so often the Leafs’ best blue liner — made a costly mistake, which led to the Senators’ winning goal. Tom Pyatt made Rielly pay, with an assist from Matt Duchene.

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James van Riemsdyk had a career-high 11 shots on goal and scored his team-tying 19th goal of the season. However, the fact he had so many attempts and only scored once, again speaks volumes about the performance of Anderson between the pipes.

What makes the defeat even more frustrating for Toronto is the Senators are dealing with numerous injuries at the moment. Throw in the fact Ottawa was coming off a 8-2 beatdown from the Chicago Blackhawks a night earlier, and the Leafs really should have done better.

As such, the loss means the Leafs will now enter the bye week with a bitter taste in their mouths. However, the truth is the break is arguably coming at a good time for the team.

The Toronto Maple Leafs seem to have been missing a step recently, going 2-3-2 in their last seven games. In fact, go back one month from Wednesday, and they have won just five of their 14 contests.

Rielly agreed that a break wasn’t such a bad idea. As reported by the Toronto Sun‘s Terry Koshan, he said:

"“Right now, I think a little break might not be the worst thing. We’ll come back re-energized. It’s important that the guys in this room take care of our bodies and come back rested and prepared to make a long push.”"

Game notes:

  • Rielly scored his fifth goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3 and was awarded the game’s third star
  • Van Riemsdyk played a season-high 18:40
  • William Nylander notched his 23rd assist of the season and is now second on the team with 32 overall points
  • Duchene had a game-high two assists
  • The Leafs return to action at the ACC next Tuesday, against the St. Louis Blues

Next: 3 Leafs who missed out on the NHL All-Star Game

What was your main takeaway from Wednesday night’s game? Concern over the number of goals conceded? Impressed with the comeback? Something else altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.