The Battle of Ontario has its second chapter of the young season as a pair of East Division teams take the ice north of the border in the 6ix. It’s the Ottawa Senators on the road as they try to sweep a home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night. These teams met on Thursday night in Ottawa, with the Senators jumping in front early and hanging on for a 3-2 victory over a Maple Leafs team playing the second game of a back-to-back set. The Maple Leafs own a 5-3-2 edge in the last 10 meetings between the teams though Thursday’s win gave the Senators victories in each of the last two matchups.
Ottawa Senators Seek Home-and-Home SweepOttawa struggled last season and found themselves sixth in the North Division a season ago with 51 points, one point ahead of Vancouver. The Senators started last season with a season-opening win over the Maple Leafs, who were in a similar situation after facing Montreal to open the season. Ottawa jumped to an early advantage with a couple of goals late in the first period and made that hold up the rest of the way. Prevailing at home is one thing but the Senators now have to go on the road and come up with a victory. That was something that was a challenge for Ottawa last year, going 9-18-1 with a -40 goal differential.
On Thursday night, Ottawa’s first period success set the tone for the game and delivered them a victory in front of their home crowd. The Senators were outshot by a 17-12 margin in the opening period but skated off with a 3-0 advantage on the scoreboard. Chris Tierney opened the scoring with his first of the year at 8:31 off assists from Nick Holden and Tyler Ennis. Late in the stanza, Ennis scored his first of the year at 18:58 on the power play off assists from Thomas Chabot and Tim Stutzle to make it a 2-0 game. Alex Formenton made it a 3-0 game with his first of the year at 19:59 off an assist from Victor Mete. The second period saw Ottawa with a 14-6 edge in shots on goal with neither side lighting the lamp, leaving the game 3-0 after 40 minutes. In the final period, the Senators were outshot 25-10 and outscored 2-0 though that left them ahead at the final horn. Anton Forsberg made 46 saves, a career-high, for Ottawa, who was outshot 48-36 in the contest. He is expected to get the start in goal again here.
Toronto Maple Leafs Return Home Looking for SplitToronto earned a win in their season opener at home Wednesday night against Montreal. Perhaps, much like last season with the condensed schedule, going on the road to play their second game in less than 24 hours got the better of them. The Maple Leafs were staggered in the opening period by Ottawa, especially in the last 90 seconds of the period, and were unable to climb out of that hole as a furious third-period assault ended up falling a goal short when all was said and done. Toronto at least has a day of rest before this one as they return home but this is their third game in four nights without Auston Matthews.
🍎 What a find 🍎 pic.twitter.com/dl0ojxFki6— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 15, 2021
In Thursday’s game, the opening 20 minutes set the tone and sent Toronto spiraling to defeat. Toronto held a 17-12 edge in shots on goal in the opening period but they trailed 3-0 at the first intermission. The Maple Leafs gave up two goals in the final 1:02 of the stanza to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-0 hole In the second period, Toronto was outshot 14-6 with neither team denting the twine, leaving the game 3-0 at the end of 40 minutes. The third period saw the Maple Leafs with a commanding 25-10 advantage in shots and scored twice though they were unable to net the equalizer. Jason Spezza got Toronto on the board with his first of the season, on the power play, at 3:11 off assists from William Nylander and Morgan Rielly. Nylander tallied his second of the year, on the power play, at 8:49 off assists from Spezza and John Tavares to make it a one-goal game. Despite their best efforts, Toronto couldn’t get another puck in the net, sending them to defeat. Petr Mrazek made 33 saves for the Maple Leafs, who held a 48-36 edge in shots on goal, in the loss. Jack Campbell is expected to be back between the pipes for this contest.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Ottawa beat Toronto in the first game between the teams last season, which came the day after Toronto played Montreal to open the season. When these teams met in the second game of the home-and-home series in Toronto, it was the Maple Leafs that prevailed en route to a North Division crown. While D.J. Smith has done a solid job coaching the Senators and gets the most out of his players, the fact remains that the Maple Leafs are the more talented team. You can’t bank on Toronto falling apart in the late stages of a period like we saw Thursday night. The Maple Leafs earn a split of their home-and-home series by prevailing in this contest.
Full-Game Total Pick
We saw the teams combine for five goals in the first meeting Thursday night, leaving the teams short of the total. That’s been the trend for both of the Maple Leafs’ games this season, as they’ve seen totals of three and five goals so far this season. While the potential for an offensive outburst is on the horizon, the Maple Leafs are still waiting on Matthews to make his return, which may come Monday against the Rangers. Ottawa has seen the under go 4-0-1 in the second game of their last five home-and-home series. Toronto has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four overall and 4-1 in their last five after scoring two goals or less. Look for this one to fall short of the total.