Toronto: The Toronto Maple Leafs showed no mercy to their injury-ravaged rivals on Saturday in claiming a 3-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in the ‘Battle of Ontario’.
While every team in the lockout-shortened season have had to deal with injuries, few, if any, have been hit as hard as Ottawa.
The Senators have five players on what amounts to an All-Star disabled list, including Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the National Hockey League’s top defenceman.
They were forced to call up fresh troops from their minor league affiliate, with Derek Grant, David Dziurzynski and defenceman Eric Gryba all making their NHL debuts.
The game was Ottawa’s first without leading scorer Karlsson, and with top playmaker Jason Spezza also out of action, the team could not find a way to put a puck past Maple Leafs’ back-up netminder Ben Scrivens, who stopped 34 shots in his first career shutout.
“Any goalie will tell you a shutout is a team stat and the guys definitely helped me out big-time today,” Scrivens said.
“[I am] definitely happy I was up to the task, but the way the guys played in front of me made me look pretty good.
The Maple Leafs’ also have a lengthy injury list, with number one netminder James Reimer, first line winger Joffrey Lupul and top four defencemen Jake Gardiner and Carl Gunnarsson all sidelined.
However, Toronto managed to plug their holes with solid back-ups and recorded their fifth win in six games to move into the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference standings.
With both benches stocked with newcomers, the rivalry between the national and provincial capitals lacked its usual bite.
Frazer McLaren scored his first goal of the season to give Toronto a 1-0 lead in a dull opening period.
The tempo picked up in a scoreless second but it wasn’t until the third that the crowd came to life, as Tyler Bozak provided an insurance marker and John-Michael Liles scored into an empty net.
Even with a patchwork line-up, the Senators have refused to wave the white flag and remain confident they can recover to make the play-offs.
“You really have to embrace what is ahead of us, it’s an opportunity to show what we are made of,” said Senators netminder Craig Anderson, who will be counted on to carry a bigger load.
“That is the name of the game, there is always going to be changes.
“It’s obviously an adjustment there are going to be bigger roles for different players and you have to take that bull by the horns and ride it.”