OTTAWA – Sometimes the truth hurts.
On Saturday night the Ottawa Senators needed to face the fact that they didn’t get the goaltending they needed.
Brian Elliott couldn’t come up with the big save as Pavel Kubina scored 33 seconds in overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs (25-26-12) a 4-3 victory. It was his second of the game.
Kubina beat Elliott through the legs on a goal the young goaltender should have stopped.
When asked about Ottawa’s goaltending, coach Cory Clouston was honest.
“He was inconsistent like the rest of us,” said Clouston. “He made a couple of big saves, but if you look back there would be a couple goals he would want back. We’re not a good enough team to have one or two bad goals.”
In comparison, Leafs coach Ron Wilson was extremely pleased with his goaltender’s performance as Curtis Joseph picked up his second win of the season.
“Big thing for us is our goaltenders have made key saves when we need them,” said Wilson. “That builds confidence up front.”
Jamal Mayers and Tim Stapleton, playing in just his second NHL game, also scored for the Leafs. Joseph, making his first start since January 1, stopped 29 shots.
Ryan Shannon, Jarkko Ruutu and Daniel Alfredsson scored for the Senators (23-29-9), while Elliott faced 38 shots.
Toronto’s blue-line was given a boost as Tomas Kaberle returned to the lineup after missing the 13 games with a broken hand and Mike Van Ryn returned from a leg injury after missing the last eight.
With both teams out of the playoff picture it was expected this latest instalment of the Battle of Ontario might lack some intensity, but the 20,050 at Scotiabank Place weren’t disappointed.
“The atmosphere here in this building when we come here is as good as anywhere,” said Joseph. “There are lots of Leafs fans, but it gets loud and it’s a great atmosphere.”
Ottawa took control of the play early on as they pinned the Leafs in their own end, but couldn’t find a way to score. Minutes later Toronto’s Nik Antropov had a point blank shot, but couldn’t beat Elliott.
Toronto opened the scoring at the six-minute mark on a goal Elliott would most definitely want back. Mayers beat Elliott glove side with a wrist shot the Senators goaltender should have easily handled.
The Leafs made it 2-0 as Stapleton scored his first NHL goal as he took advantage of Jason Spezza’s misfortune. Spezza was trying to clear the puck out and instead ended up pushing it over the goal line.
“The first period was brutal,” said Ottawa’s Mike Fisher. “We didn’t look like a team at all. The second period was really good and we played like we should have from the start.”
After being outshot 18-8 in the first the Senators came out with greater intensity and scored 29 seconds into the second to cut the lead in half as Ryan Shannon beat Joseph from the slot.
Four minutes later Ruutu tied the game as he jammed the puck in past Joseph short side.
The Leafs nearly regained the lead with just over two minutes remaining as Jason Blake had a breakaway, but Elliott came up with the big save.
Ottawa took its first lead of the game as Alfredsson beat Joseph with a slapshot through the legs early in the third period.
“It was a tough first period on home ice,” said Alfredsson. “To be able to turn it around is a good sign.”
Kubina tied the game with just over five minutes remaining with a power-play goal.
“We didn’t help ourselves getting behind,” said Fisher. “Parts of our game we have to still put together.”
In its last six games, Toronto has won twice in overtime, twice in shootouts and lost twice in shootouts.
“We have nothing to save it for,” said Mayers. “We leave it on the line. We’re a young team, we’re hungry and we never give up.”
Alexandre Picard, playing in his first game after being a healthy scratch the last four, left the game after the first period with a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated Sunday.
Notes: The Senators were without RW Chris Neil (lacerated calf, indefinite), D Christoph Schubert (groin, day-to-day) and C Cody Bass (shoulder surgery, indefinite), while D Brendan Bell was a healthy scratch. … Ottawa assigned G Martin Gerber to Binghamton of the AHL. … The Leafs were without D Jeff Finger (upper body), RW Niklas Hagman (head); LW Boyd Devereaux was a healthy scratch. … Both Joseph and Elliott are from Newmarket, Ont., and graduates of the University of Wisconsin.