Leafs fall to Sens, lose Phaneuf

Sergei Gonchar (8458951)

Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar each had a goal and an assist, helping the Ottawa Senators hold off the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at the Air Canada Centre Tuesday night.

Ottawa took a 3-0 lead into the final period, only to see Toronto get goals from Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur, but the Leafs failed to get the equalizer.

Brian Elliot made 33 saves, including 16 saves in the third period.

Ottawa (5-6-1) has now won three of its last four games, while Toronto (5-5-1) has lost three straight.

Elliot held off a late push by Toronto after Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf left the game with a leg injury in the second and didn’t return.

However, goaltending was not a factor early in this game.

Both teams came in desperate for more scoring and shots on goal.  Toronto was shutout in its last two games (against Boston and New York), while Ottawa was blanked by the Bruins on Saturday.

Still, most of play occurred in the neutral zone through first 10 minutes with the Leafs holding a 3-0 margin in shots.

Ottawa, which finally registered a shot at the 13-minute mark, woke up for the final seven minutes of the period.

The Senators’ momentum was sparked by a slashing penalty to Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski at 14:24.

Ottawa moved the puck effectively on the man advantage, producing several quality chances.

The visitors finally broke through with 2:56 remaining in the first when Mike Fisher got behind the defence before being hauled down on a partial breakaway by blue-liner Mike Komisarek, resulting an penalty shot.

Fisher skated in and fired a quick, low shot to the blocker side on Jean-Sebastien Giguere for his fourth goal of the season.

It’s the second straight game the Toronto goalie has been beaten in a one-on-one showdown. New Yorks’ Ryan Callahan scored on a pretty deke during a penalty shot on Saturday.

The Leafs came out to start the second showing a lot more energy.

Some early pressure led to two straight power-play opportunities in the opening four minutes.

Penalties to Chris Phillips and Jarkko Ruutu gave the Leafs a chance to draw even, but despite plenty of pressure Toronto couldn’t capitalize.

Surprisingly, the game seemed to swing in the Senators’ favour on a disallowed goal at 6:14. Alexei Kovalev appeared to shovel a puck into the wide open Toronto net, but there was no conclusive evidence showing that it crossed the goal-line.

Leafs lose Phaneuf

Amidst the confusion, Phaneuf went down in the background.  He tried to finish a check in the corner, and his left knee buckled against the boards.

Phaneuf went down in a heap and crawled on his hands and knees for a few seconds before struggling to regain his feet.  He limped off to the Toronto dressing room.

The Leafs seemed to go into a shell for the rest of the period. Three straight penalties would give Ottawa two power-play goals.

Gonchar got his first goal of the year at 7:33, while Luca Caputi was off for elbowing.  He blew a one-timer past Giguere from the right point on a quick pass from Karlsson.

Gonchar returned the favour more than two minutes later, setting up Karlsson on a one-timer from the left point to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead.

The Leafs again came out of the dressing room for the final period looking for their first goal in eight periods.

It came at 5:15 as Kulemin tipped in a point shot by Francois Beauchemin.

Three straight power plays in the final five minutes provided an opportunity for a comeback. MacArthur scored in the last minute to make things close, but Elliot held strong for the win.

The Leafs will look to rebound on Wednesday night when they visit the Washington Capitals.