Phil Kessel outscored the Ottawa Senators last night which shouldn’t come as a huge surprise considering he has scored more against them than against any other NHL team, but what did come as a surprise was that he finished the game with his fifth-career hat trick. He also scored a hat trick in October vs Anaheim, outscoring them, 4-2.
Toronto won the game 6-3, after falling behind 2-0 for the second time in a row. Kessel had three goals and added an assist, to out-point every player on the Senators.
Despite his four-point night, which is something that doesn’t happen very often in Toronto unless it’s the other team that gets it, Kessel still doesn’t talk much after the game, even when there was probably so much to talk about, including the military night, and Cody Franson’s 100th point and the six-game win streak that Leafs are on, again.
“It was a big win for us obviously and the fans were good and we found a way,” said Kessel, who last had a four point night in Edmonton on Oct. 29. “I’ve had chances in a couple games before and obviously they went in tonight.”
BIG CELEBRATIONS LOL
As for how he plans on celebrating his second hat trick of the season, Kessel said, “Go home and hang out.”
Head Coach Randy Carlyle told the media that it was one of those games where Toronto pulled off a win, even though they didn’t necessarily deserve to win it.
“It was one of those games where we weren’t really good with the puck,” he said.
“We were sloppy with the puck. We’ve played some good games and still lost.”
“We need to find areas to improve on, we’ve tried to identify a few things. If we aren’t in a competing, skating mode, we have no chance.”
“Our structure gave us a chance. The thing that got us going was the power play goal.”
While teammate, and roommate Tyler Bozak joked that it was surprising to see Kessel out talking to the media, the fact that Kessel lit someone up on the scoreboard, was not surprising.
“He has always played well since he got here. he’s always put up points and done great things for our team, but I’ve been starting to put up points now with him and that’s been fun.”
The other rising star in Leafland has no doubt been the resurgence of centre Nazem Kadri. Kadri is also on a point streak, which included two goals this past Tuesday vs Tampa Bay, and an assist Thursday vs Florida.
WIN SEASON SERIES VS SENS
Bozak, Kadri and Joffrey Lupul rounded out the scoring for Toronto and they are now riding six wins in a row, for the second time in about two weeks. Toronto also now wins the season series vs the Sens, with one game left to play, Leafs lead it 3-0. The previous two games were both decided by shootout.
If there was a down side to such a beautiful Leaf win, it’s that Sens enforcer Chris Neil scored not one but two goals.
The Leafs found themselves trailing by two early in the game. Colin Greening, who has had a history of scoring against Toronto over the past two seasons, continued those ways last night. He scored to make it 2-0 Sens.
In goal, Craig Anderson, who this time last year was considered a prime candidate for the US Olympic hockey team starter, now clearly is not. He made 30 stops, but gave up six goals. While Jonathan Bernier is once again starting to look pretty darn good in the Leaf net. Can’t remember the last time he lost a game, then again, can’t remember the last time Leafs lost a game either!
Kessel had a four-point night back on Oct. 29 when the Leafs made a monster comeback to beat the Oilers in Edmonton, 6-5.
Kessel’s last hatty came when the Leafs beat Anaheim 4-2 a week and a half before that (Oct. 22).
Against Ottawa last night, Kessel’s first goal could not have come at a better time, giving Toronto the lead 7:29 into the third period. Cody Franson got his 100th career assist on that goal.
Phil Kessel had a pretty good night last night against the team he has torched the most over his NHL career.
PHIL FOUND A WAY
“I think with Phil, he’s been classified as this one type of player and we think that he’s got more of an all-round ability too,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “He can distribute the puck, he can pass the puck and he can find people. He can do a lot more things than just shoot.”
Toronto’s lead was short-lived as less than two minutes later, Neil tied it 3-3 at 9:06 jamming home a loose puck. The play was reviewed before it was determined the puck just inched over the goal line for Neil’s eighth of the season.
Ottawa had a 2-0 lead midway through the second period and had an excellent chance take a three-goal lead near the 11 minute mark as Erik Karlsson beat Bernier with a shot glove-side, but hit the post.
The Leafs completed the comeback at 14:39 of the middle frame on a questionable play. Kadri hit Senators defenceman Cody Ceci from behind and then centred the loose puck to Lupul for his 17th. Despite the Ottawa protest and the referees discussing amongst themselves, there was no penalty on the play.
“He was actually looking up, looking up ice I think from what I remember when I was kind of engaging him,” said Kadri. “I think he turned to just give himself a little more room at that point I’m just fully committed to the hit and I just finished my check.
“To be honest, I did let up a little bit and the puck was laying there and I just put it in front.”
Added Ceci: “I just kind of showed my back a bit hoping he’d slow up and ended up face first in the boards and then they scored right on the play. It was a tough play, tough play for me. It was unfortunate I didn’t get a call on the play and they ended up tying the game with that.”
As for the non-call, Ceci said he was surprised.
“I guess I could’ve stayed down a little longer,” he said. “But I just tried to get up as fast as I could to continue to play, and they end up scoring right after that. I just had to skate off and just kind of shocked that nothing came of it.”
It seems there is never a dull moment in the Battle of Ontario. The final installment of this season is scheduled for April 12 in Ottawa, the final game of the regular season for Toronto. I guarantee there will be something on the line that night.
Leafs callup Gregg McKegg was in the lineup last night, however based on the Senators’ lineup, coach Carlyle deemed it not necessary to use McKegg.