OTTAWA – Jason Spezza’s stick nearly cost the Ottawa Senators a victory – and it was nowhere near the puck at the time.
The Toronto Maple Leafs successfully lobbied for an illegal stick penalty on Spezza, but couldn’t score on the ensuing power play and dropped a 2-1 decision to the Senators on Monday night.
The Leafs did everything they could to tie the game in the third period, including calling for a measurement on Jason Spezza’s stick with 2:16 to play in the game. It was a good decision, as Spezza was penalized for an illegal blade.
“The stick was not only narrow (at the tip), it was dangerous,” Wilson said.
When asked why he chose to make the call in a game with both teams out of playoff contention, Wilson responded, “we beat them all the other times.”
Dany Heatley scored the winning goal in the final minute of the second period. Daniel Alfredsson also scored for the Senators and Brian Elliott made 25 saves for the win.
Ian White had the lone Leafs goal. Curtis Joseph got the start ahead of ex-Senator Martin Gerber, who the Leafs picked up off waivers at the trade deadline. Joseph finished with 24 saves.
“It was a great call and it gave us a chance to tie it. As a coach that’s all you can do,” Joseph said of the measurement.
Not only did the Leafs not tie it, but Alfredsson nearly scored on two-on-one just seconds into the power play.
“I would have liked Alfie to score five seconds, or whatever it was into the kill,” said Spezza. “The boys did a good job killing that for me. You don’t want to see them score when you get a penalty call like that.
“My blade is a little skinny at the toe and I didn’t think it would be called in a game like tonight, but good lesson learned. I don’t know what the clarification is and we still didn’t get a ruling. I just shave it down for weight. I just can’t shave them as much now. I’ll use heavier sticks and work a little more.”
With the help of two late second-period goals, the Senators flipped a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 advantage heading into the final period.
Alfredsson put the Senators on the board as he beat Joseph with a slapshot on a breakaway at 15:14. Alfredsson retrieved the puck that had hopped over the stick of White at the Ottawa blue-line and got a shot off ahead of a diving Phil Oreskovic, making his NHL debut.
“He’s a great player but I’m pretty sure it rolled on him and he was going the other way,” Joseph said of the Alfredsson goal. “He’s scored a lot of great goals on me but I don’t think that one was going where he wanted it to.”
Heatley gave the Senators the lead when he tipped Anton Volchenkov’s point shot down and past Joseph with 47 seconds left in the second period.
“That was a good deflection,” said Joseph. “It went off his stick, off a toe and then I think it hit the ice and then bounced halfway up.”
The Leafs scored their first goal at 4:48 of the first period. White took a pass from Jeff Hamilton and beat Elliott in close and through the legs.
Notes: Toronto Forward Niklas Hagman’s next goal will be the 100th of his career …The Maple Leafs host the New York Islanders Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre … The Senators have a 40-23-3-5 lifetime regular season record against the Leafs … Defenceman Brian Lee was back in the Senators lineup Monday as Jason Smith sat out with a lower body injury … Spezza needs one point to reach 400 for his career … The Senators have Tuesday off and will host the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday night.