Kessel helps Maple Leafs beat Senators

The Associated PressMarch 18, 2012
Kessel helps Maple Leafs beat Senators
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Ottawa Senators goaltender Ben Bishop(30) lies in the net as Toronto Maple Leafs' Joey Crabb and teammate Tim Connolly, right, celebrate Connolly's goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday, March 17, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand)

OTTAWA (AP) Mikhail Grabovski didn't figure on the scoresheet for Toronto in its victory over the rival Ottawa Senators. For many of his teammates, he was still the hero in the penalty-filled game.

Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist and James Reimer made 29 saves to help the Maple Leafs in a 3-1 victory Saturday night.

Grabovski, the Leafs' third-leading scorer, earned his teammates' admiration for dropping the gloves against Senators enforcer Chris Neil.

''I think the guys were fired up to say the least,'' Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek said. ''He did pretty well for himself to step in there and stand up for a teammate. That's what we're all about and I think every single guy went up to (Grabovski) at the end of the second to give him a pat on the back.''

Komisarek also made sure his team used the bout as motivation.

''We've talked about playing with heart and intensity at this time year and everyone knows how difficult it's been the last couple of weeks,'' Komisarek said. ''We can build some momentum here and build off the positives.''

Grabovski was given two game misconducts and a fighting major.

Tim Connolly and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Toronto. Reimer won his second straight to improve to 4-0 at Scotiabank Place, allowing only Colin Greening's goal.

''It's been good that's for sure,'' Reimer said. ''It's a fun atmosphere to play in and maybe as a team we get up for it.''

Ben Bishop, making his sixth straight start, faced just 18 shots in his first regulation loss.

Ottawa, coming off an overtime victory over Montreal on Friday night, was 0 for 3 on the power play and is 0 for 18 in the last five games.

''We're at that part of the season where everybody's a little bit tired,'' Ottawa's Erik Karlsson said. ''We had a tough game yesterday and we didn't really reach our top level, either, and it's something we're going to have to work on if we want to continue to be successful.''

The Leafs made it 3-0 midway through the third with their second power-play goal of the game when Phaneuf fired a shot from inside the right faceoff circle.

''We got in penalty trouble and that's the difference in the game,'' Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson said. ''We weren't as opportunistic on our chances to give us that lead. We got too many penalties in the end and that didn't give us a chance to come back in the game.''

Greening broke Reimer's shutout bid with just over a minute remaining, tipping in Filip Kuba's shot.

The dislike between these two teams was evident early when Ottawa's Sergei Gonchar and Toronto's Clarke MacArthur fought midway through the first. Gonchar's only other NHL fight was in 1998.

The Leafs opened the scoring midway through the second when Erik Karlsson's clearing attempt from behind the net bounced in off Bishop's skates. Connolly was given credit for the goal.

The intensity rose in the second when Nick Foligno and Toronto's Luke Schenn came to blows, followed by Neil and Grabovski during the same stoppage in play.

Grabovski was given two game misconducts and a fighting major.

NOTES: The teams split the season series 3-3. ... Notes: The Senators were without G Craig Anderson (finger, indefinitely), C Peter Regin (shoulder, out for season), C Jesse Winchester (concussion, indefinitely). D Matt Carkner, LW Kaspars Daugavins and C Zenon Konopka were healthy scratches. ... The Leafs were without LW Joffrey Lupul (right shoulder, out indefinitely), LW Mike Brown (leg, out indefinitely) and RW Nikolai Kulemin (finger, out indefinitely). D Cody Franson was a healthy scratch.