Toronto Falls Short, but the Monster Is Solid Against Ottawa

Mark GregoryContributor IIIOctober 6, 2009

MISSISSAUGA, CANADA - AUGUST 26:  Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson #50 of the Toronto Maple Leafs takes shots during the Upper Deck NHL Rookie Debut on August 26, 2009 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.  (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Jonas Gustavsson got the start tonight against Ottawa, and looked solid in his first NHL start.

Hockey is a game of millimeters and that continued to be the case tonight as a reviewed goal—disputed over a questionable high stick by Donovan batted the puck past Gustavsson—put the Senators ahead to stay.

Alfredsson scored on a penalty shot which turned out to be the winner. Both were scored in the second period after a scoreless first.

After the Leafs' defensive acquisitions in the offseason, a 2-1 score is probably typical of the low-scoring game Burke and Wilson envisioned the Leafs to play.

The Leafs came out flat in the first two periods, but after Stajan’s power play goal, his third goal in three games, the Leafs had several opportunities which made the game interesting—the best of which was Komisarek’s shot that hit both goal posts.

Mitchell and Stempniak were among Toronto’s best forwards again, but for the most part, Toronto generated very little offense until late in the game. Ottawa out-hit Toronto and played just well enough to win this contest that seemed to lack the intense rivalry atmosphere that has characterized Leafs-Senators games in the past.

Victor Stalberg wasn’t on the bench in the second period as he took a hard hit by A. Volchenkov at the Ottawa blue line. That forced Wilson to juggle the forward line combinations for the remainder of the contest. 

Kaberle had a strong game but for the third game in a row, Beauchemin looked like he was fighting the puck.  

If the Leafs can find any consolation in this loss, it was the stellar play of Gustavsson who shut the Senators out in the third and kept the game close.

Leafs next game is Saturday against the Penguins.