TORONTO - Brady Tkachuk scored twice and Anton Forsberg made 31 saves as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 on Friday night.
Claude Giroux, with a goal and an assist, Thomas Chabot, Drake Batherson and Derick Brassard had the other goals for Ottawa (22-23-3). Tim Stutzle added two assists as the Senators picked up their first victory at Scotiabank Arena with fans in attendance since October 2018.
William Nylander and Joey Anderson replied for Toronto (30-12-8), which was minus Auston Matthews because of a knee sprain that will keep the star centre out at least three weeks.
Ilya Samsonov, who was scheduled to get the night off, made a surprise start and finished with 28 saves as the Leafs suffered just their fourth regulation home loss of 2022-23.
Matt Murray was slated to see his first action in goal for the Leafs since Jan. 17, but appeared to take a shot up high from Nylander in warmup and occupied a seat at the end of the bench instead of Toronto's crease prior to the opening faceoff.
Matthews, who will miss next week's NHL all-star game, suffered his injury in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime victory against the New York Rangers. The Leafs dropped to 31-17-2 when the reigning Hart Trophy winner is out of the lineup since picking him first overall at the 2016 draft.
Toronto captain John Tavares took Matthews' spot between Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting on the top line to start the game, while Pontus Holmberg centred Nylander and Calle Jarnkrok.
Tied 2-2 in the second period, Ottawa grabbed its third lead of the night on a power play when Brassard's centring pass went in off Toronto defenceman Timothy Liljegren for his seventh goal of the season.
The Senators then made it 4-2 at 16:37 when Batherson ripped his 15th past Samsonov.
Tkachuk then put things to bed 3:32 into the third when he sniped his 18th upstairs on a shot that clattered the back bar of the Toronto goal.
Giroux made it 6-2 with five minutes left with his 17th.
Ottawa opened the scoring at 1:32 of the first when Chabot fired his eighth - and first in 18 games - with the teams playing 4-on-4.
Toronto tied it at 7:15 when Anderson took a pass from Alexander Kerfoot and fired his second shortside on Forsberg.
The Senators went up 2-1 just 23 seconds into the second when Tkachuk tipped his 18th past Samosonov, who started a fifth straight game, after the Leafs turned the puck over.
But Toronto responded on a power play at 2:44 when Nylander swatted home his 27th from the crease after an initial shot from Tavares in tight leaked through Forsberg.
KEEFE ON MURRAY
The former Senators netminder was supposed to see action for first time since allowing four goals on eight shots 11 days ago against Florida. Samsonov replaced Murray that night and held the fort for Toronto to secure a comeback overtime win before going 3-0-1 over the Leafs' next four. Head coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday morning Murray has handled the situation well as he waited his turn. “He's put his work in,” Keefe said. “He wants to play. He's a proud guy. Both these guys are competing for the net.” Traded to Toronto in the summer, Murray was also supposed to face Ottawa back in October, but suffered a groin injury during the morning skate that kept him out until mid-November.
SMITH ON SENS STRUGGLES
Ottawa entered with 45 points from 47 games, just five more than the club had at the same stage last season. The Senators made a series of headline-grabbing additions in the summer, but depth continues to be an issue. No. 1 centre Josh Norris (shoulder injury) played just eight games in 2022-23 and will miss the remainder of the schedule, while top-pair defenceman Artem Zub (lower-body injury) has suited up just 21 times due to various ailments. “Not the same team that maybe we thought,” Ottawa head coach D.J. Smith said. “All we can do is play the games that we have in front of us. I believe our second half numbers will be better.”
Senators: Host Montreal on Saturday.
Leafs: Host Toronto on Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 27, 2023.