Even with the Leafs leading the game through nearly 58 minutes.
Chris Kelly tied the game with 2:06 left in the third period and Chris Phillips scored 2:39 into overtime as the Senators stunned the Leafs 3-2 on Saturday night, improving their record against Toronto to 11-2-0 since the lockout ended, including 4-1-0 this season.
“It’s a big rivalry,” Phillips said. “There’s always a buildup with this game. Especially after hearing the chant that we did with a few minutes to go (Ottawa Sucks). For (Kelly) to tie it up and then to win in overtime, it feels good.”
Phillips scored the winner but he pointed to Ray Emery as the hero, the Sens netminder who made 43 saves en route to being named the game’s first star.
“He stood on his head and gave us a chance to win tonight,” said Phillips.
The Leafs came roaring out of the gate and pelted Emery with 20 first-period shots.
“He made awfully big saves at critical times,” said Senators coach Bryan Murray. “Ray was real good and gave us a chance to come back.”
The stellar effort comes on the heels of back-to-back shutouts for Emery, who has cemented his place as the No. 1 goalie over Martin Gerber.
“He’s been unbelievable over the last couple of games,” Phillips said.
The Leafs appeared to be sitting back after Boyd Devereux’s first goal as a Leaf put them ahead 2-1 with 6:20 left in the third period. But Kelly, standing alone in front of the net, silenced the Air Canada Centre when he banged home a pass from the corner from Wade Redden with 2:06 left in the period.
“It was a great pass,” Kelly said. “I was surprised to be that open, especially late in the game. There’s usually three guys on you.”
Phillips then one-timed a pass from Dany Heatley on a 2-on-1 break just inside the post along the ice on Andrew Raycroft, the Senators’ bench emptying in jubilation after yet another win over the Leafs.
“We should’ve won,” said Raycroft, who stopped 31 shots. “We had a 2-1 lead in the third period in our building and we didn’t hold it. That’s frustrating.”
Alex Steen also scored for the Leafs (17-17-6), who have won only four of their last 16 games.
Dean McAmmond also scored for the Senators (21-18-1), who moved three points ahead of the Leafs in the standings.
The Battle of Ontario might as well have been renamed the Battle of the Wounded for this night with the Senators deprived of their top two centres in Jason Spezza (knee) and Mike Fisher (knee) while also losing forwards Peter Schaefer and Antoine Vermette to “upper body” injuries midway through the game. The Leafs were once again without forwards Darcy Tucker (bruised foot), Kyle Wellwood (groin/hip), Alexei Ponikarovsky (shoulder), Nik Antropov (ankle sprain) and of course former Selke Trophy winner Michael Peca (broken leg), who’s out for the year.
But the Senators have won four games in a row despite the absences of Spezza and Fisher, Kelly centring the top line between Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson and responding with a goal and two assists Saturday.
“It’s just great to see guys that are used to smaller roles stepping up and scoring some big goals,” Emery said.
Steen opened the scoring with 1:06 left in the first period, one-timing a pass in the slot from Jeff O’Neill on a Leafs power play. That ended Emery’s shutout streak at 149 minutes 42 seconds. He stopped 70 consecutive shots before Steen beat him.
McAmmond tied the game 1-1 with a short-handed goal 5:37 into the second period, shovelling in a rebound over a sprawled Raycroft after the Leafs goalie stopped Kelly on a breakaway.
Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle had a glorious chance to put Toronto ahead with 6:30 left in the second period, but he missed an open net on a rebound after Emery stopped a Mats Sundin blast.
Moments after Heatley was ropped by Raycroft at the door step with a beauty of a glove save from the Leafs goalie, Devereaux skated in on a 2-on-1 and ripped a wrist shot top corner over Emery’s stick side, igniting a raucous celebration among the louder than usual 19,483 fans at Air Canada Centre.
“It was a great thrill,” said Devereaux, playing his second game with the Leafs since his callup from the AHL Marlies. “Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the game-winner. But it was a great thrill regardless.”
Notes: The two provincial rivals next meet Feb. 3 at Ottawa … The Senators return home to host the Atlanta Thrashers in an afternoon game New Year’s Day while the Leafs host the Boston Bruins that same night … Defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo (flu) was replaced in the Leafs lineup by Brendan Bell.