The Ottawa Senators have started a three-game road trip with consecutive wins, and they close it out with the first of two regular-season visits to Toronto on Hockey Night in Canada. It’s the second straight Saturday the teams will face off, and the Leafs are home favourites on Sports Interaction NHL odds.
Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs
Moneyline: Leafs -135, Senators +122
Date: Saturday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
The Senators (24-15-4) have 52 points, tied for second with Boston in the Atlantic Division as of Friday and two ahead of the Leafs. It has been an impressive week for Ottawa as it won in St. Louis 6-4 on Tuesday behind two goals each from Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman.
Then on Thursday, the Sens won at Columbus, one of the best teams in hockey, 2-0. Kyle Turris and Ryan Dzingel scored and Mike Condon had a career-high 42 saves. Physical defenceman Mark Borowiecki was scratched because of the flu, and he’s in question for Saturday. He’s No. 1 on the team with 69 penalty minutes.
Condon has really stepped up big for Ottawa as Thursday was his 11th straight start. The Senators lost No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson in early December when he took a leave of absence to be with his wife, who is undergoing cancer treatment. Anderson could return by the end of the month. The team might have to consider a time-share arrangement in net as Condon is 12-7-3 with a 2.34 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and three shutouts. He has earned a bigger role when Anderson returns.
While the Senators are solid in net and on defence, led by two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, who leads the team with 37 points, they need help on offence. This week, GM Pierre Dorion ruled out left wing Clarke MacArthur for the season. He hasn’t played since Oct. 14, 2015, because of post-concussion syndrome and suffered another concussion in training camp. Dorion has said he will be looking for forward help ahead of the March 1 trade deadline. Turris, a right winger, leads the team with 16 goals and has 12 points in his past 12 games.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs (21-14-8) had a three-game winning streak — in which they scored exactly four goals in each — end in a 5-2 home defeat to the New York Rangers on Thursday. New York outshot Toronto 41-25, and it was only the fourth regulation loss in the past 18 games for the Leafs.
Michael Grabner had two goals for the Blueshirts, who had lost three in a row. Grabner has been a revelation this year in New York with a league-best 20 even-strength goals after a middling 2015/16 campaign with Toronto in which he had nine goals and nine assists in 80 games. The Leafs made no effort to re-sign the free agent.
Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, while Frederik Andersen made 36 saves. It’s the third time in four games that he has allowed three goals or more. The Leafs clearly missed top defenceman Morgan Reilly, who was out due to a right knee injury and is day-to-day. The 22-year-old has a goal and 16 assists and averages more than 22 minutes of ice time. Frankie Corrado, who just completed a conditioning stint in the AHL, replaced Reilly in the lineup for just his second NHL action of the season. Corrado took back-to-back minor penalties (slashing and hooking) in the second period.
While the Senators have three players with double-digit goals, the Leafs have six — led by rookie Auston Matthews’ 22. He is tied for second in the league with 18 even-strength goals. Matthews had a three-game points streak end Thursday. Toronto ranks sixth in the NHL in scoring (3.1 goals per game) and second on the power play in converting 24.1 per cent. The Leafs were 0-for-2 on the man-advantage vs. the Rangers.
Senators at Leafs Predictions
These teams have split two meetings in Ottawa this season. In the season opener, the Senators won 5-4 on Turris’ goal 37 seconds into overtime. Of course that was the night of Matthews’ historic four-goal debut. Last Saturday, the Leafs won 4-2. Backup Curtis McElhinney was in net for Toronto and had 35 saves. Nazem Kadri had two goals, one on the power play. Condon had 23 saves for Ottawa.
The Senators have won only two of their past eight in Toronto, so take the Leafs here on NHL odds. The over is 11-4 in the past 15 meetings, and we’ll lean that way.