TORONTO – Home ice hasn’t been kind to the Toronto Maple Leafs of late.
After going 5-0-1 at Air Canada Centre to start the season, the Leafs have lost their past three at home, including Saturday’s 5-2 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.
“Whenever you’re at your home rink in front of your own fans, you don’t want the other team thinking it’s not going to be a tough night,” Leafs centre Tyler Bozak said. “It’s something we want to do in here, but we haven’t been doing a good job of that as of late.”
Not only have the Leafs lost all three in regulation, they’ve been outscored by a combined 17-3 by the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Senators.
“You want to get a win on home ice,” said defenceman John-Michael Liles, who was a minus-2 in the game. “You want to make it a tough place to play, but you’ve got to get wins anywhere, regardless. We’ve had a couple bad games at home, but it’s not something we’re focusing on.”
After giving up five goals on 14 shots in his first start at the ACC last Saturday against Boston, Ben Scrivens looked more comfortable in his second home start, allowing three goals on 22 shots. Ottawa had a pair of empty-net goals.
“I felt good coming into the game,” Scrivens said. “Better than last Saturday. I thought I made some good saves, I thought I made some mistakes. But I’m going to learn from this and get better.”
A couple defensive breakdowns led to the Senators’ first three goals, but Scrivens wasn’t hanging the blame on his teammates.
“The amounts of shots these guys block and the amount of sacrifices they make for me, they’re allowed to make a mistake or two,” he said. “It’s my job to back them up.”
Toronto got off to a good start, with Bozak scoring his first of the season to give the Leafs 1-0 after a period.
“It’s obviously tough when you haven’t got one yet,” Bozak said. “But as long as we’re winning, I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t get any goals. It was good tonight to get one, but we got another game Tuesday night to look forward to.”
It was the first lead Toronto had in a home game, dating back to their 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 29, but the Leafs couldn’t hold it.
“When we’re up by a goal we tend to sit back, and we’re going to have to learn to keep pushing and win these kinds of game that we have leads in,” said captain Dion Phaneuf, who was a minus-1 in 25:17 of ice time Saturday. “We started the way we talked about and the way we had to play to be successful. And for some reason we’ve been getting away from it.
“It’s learning how to win and building a winning a culture. We’re on our way there, but we’re still learning. We’ve got to learn how the win these one-goal games that seem to be slipping away from us.”