No matter how the season has gone for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team is still getting up for big games in the Battle of Ontario and playing the role of spoiler. During the first period of Saturday’s game between the provincial rivals, Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier made a reaching glove save that could end up haunting Ottawa all off-season.
In a lost season for the Maple Leafs, Toronto fans can at least take solace in the fact that at the most important time of the year for the provincial rival Ottawa Senators, the Leafs have put up two victories and hurt the Sens’ playoff chances.
Ottawa went into Sunday night’s game in a must-win situation. With the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins both three points up on the Senators, a victory would have pulled them within a single point and made for a furious fight to the finish. Instead, the Leafs came together to pull off a shootout win, aided in the first period by one of the best stops Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier has made all season.
With Toronto up 1-0 less than four minutes into the game, Ottawa broke down ice with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur driving toward the net. Rookie Mark Stone stopped up at the top of the Toronto zone, spun and fired a puck on net, which ended up on the tape of MacArthur following a Bernier rebound. With Bernier down, MacArthur simply had to elevate the puck to tie the game for the Senators, but Bernier reached back with his trapper and pulled the puck out of harm’s way:
In the must-win contest for Ottawa, a game that went all the way to a shootout, the Senators mustered 45 shots on goal. Bernier’s 43 saves on the night were the third highest total of his season and a big recovery after posting two-straight games with a save percentage below .900. Toronto picked up the victory in the seventh round of the shootout thanks to a Peter Holland tally.
With three games left in the season, things won’t get any easier for Ottawa. The Senators will take on Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night before heading on the road to close out the campaign against the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.