Sun, 11 Jun 2023

Sens chasing wild card, while Leafs focus on securing home ice

Field Level Media
01 Apr 2023, 09:40 GMT+10

With only postseason home-ice advantage to be determined, the playoff-bound Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Ottawa Senators, a team desperately trying to stay alive in the Eastern Conference wild-card race, on Saturday night.

The Senators (37-33-5, 79 points) defeated the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in overtime Thursday and enter Saturday five points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild-card spot.

"The job is not finished and we've got seven games left," said Shane Pinto, who scored for Ottawa on Thursday. "We've just got to keep winning games. That's all that matters."

Ottawa has won two straight and three of four.

Philadelphia tied the game with three consecutive third-period goals.

"We worked extremely hard, created a lot, I thought, and we laid off a little bit in the third," Senators coach D.J. Smith said.

The Maple Leafs (44-20-10, 98 points) enter Saturday second in the Atlantic Division, four points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lighting. Finishing second would give Toronto home-ice advantage in a first-round playoff series with Tampa Bay.

Toronto returned from a 3-2-0 road trip Wednesday and lost 3-2 in overtime to the Florida Panthers, who tied the game with one minute left in regulation.

"We had opportunities to bury them and build a substantial lead," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "We've seen this a lot. We let teams hang around and get points from you."

Ottawa enters the matchup with injury concerns. Defenseman Travis Hamonic and forward Derick Brassard each left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury.

"Both guys, not good," Smith said. "Neither were able to return and it doesn't look like they'll be able to return anytime soon, but we'll know more (Saturday) morning."

Ottawa was already without defensemen Thomas Chabot and Jakob Chychrun.

"It's tough to see," said Alex DeBrincat, who scored the overtime goal. "Two important guys to our team go down. It's not an easy thing to move past, but we've got to do it anyway."

With the defense depleted, Tyler Kleven got more playing time and had an assist in his NHL debut.

With the playoffs looming, Toronto will be considering the home-and-away discrepancies of its goaltenders.

Ilya Samsonov is 18-2-3 at home with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. On the road, he is 6-7-1 with a 3.23 GAA and a .892 save percentage.

Matt Murray is 9-6-1 with a 2.75 GAA and a .915 save percentage in away games. He is 5-2-1 (3.37, .880) at home.

"There's two extremes on both sides for both goalies, something that we're looking at for sure," Keefe said. "I don't know how applicable it might be beyond the regular season. You get into the playoffs, everything equalizes in terms of scheduling and both teams are going through the same thing.

"But it's certainly something that has my attention. Not a lot of games left, but for Sammy, we need him to play on the road and get more reps in there. And then Murray the other way. I think you'll see some of that the rest of the season."

With forward Noel Acciari (neck) out Saturday, the Maple Leafs recalled forward Radim Zohorna from their AHL affiliate.

--Field Level Media

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