TORONTO, CANADA - JANUARY 17: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs fights Nick Foligno #71 of the Ottawa Senators in a game on January 17, 2012 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Senators defeated the Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Despite a series of lineup changes for the Leafs, they were unable to hold a 2-0 lead and defeat their division rival, the Senators. Instead, Toronto ended up losing 3-2 and now falls a little further back in the standings than they would like to be, while Ottawa keeps moving up.
Ahh, the Battle of Ontario ... Remember those playoff battles between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators? The fire between the two division rivals has died down a bit due to both teams' struggles in the past couple of seasons. However, Tuesday night, the aura seemed to have returned in a game where the Senators came back from a 2-0 deficit and won, 3-2.
Both teams seemed almost equal from the get-go, each squad getting chances on net and playing solid hockey, until Matthew Lombardi netted the first goal. It wasn't much longer until Phil Kessel connected with Joffrey Lupul for put the Leafs up 2-0 and to end both of their scoreless streaks.
Just at the end of the first with eight seconds to go, Daniel Alfredsson scored a beauty of a goal on a backhand past James Reimer to get the Senators on the board before the horn. That goal would be all the Sens needed to get back into the match.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Leafs/Sens game at it's best without a scrap, and Dion Phaneuf and Nick Foligno went at it after Foligno hit Phaneuf much like the one Brad Marchand made on Sami Salo. Foligno pretty much took care of business without much rebuttal from Phaneuf and the game went on, with Phanuef receiving an extra two penalty minutes for roughing.
Just three minutes after the mini bout between Phaneuf and Foligno, Ottawa then got a lucky break with just over three minutes left in the second period. A questionable goal stood, thanks to Jason Spezza's stick being in the right place at the right time, giving the Sens even more of a momentum boost going into the final frame.
That momentum for the third came in the form of a Kyle Turris goal at just 1:24 in to finally put the Senators ahead of the Leafs, and take the victory, 3-2.
Not only was this a game for provincial pride for both the Senators and the Leafs, but had huge implications on the standings. Toronto was seven points back of Ottawa, and had a chance to cut that points lead to five, and put themselves back into a playoff spot, knocking the Capitals out, who lost Tuesday night. Instead, now the Leafs are back nine games, and the Sens move up to fifth in the Eastern Conference, tied for 58 points with the Flyers.
So if you picked the Sens to be fifth in the East at the beginning of the year, please purchase a lottery ticket.