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Leafs' offense returns in win over Senators

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- While center Nazim Kadri entered Wednesday night in the midst of a five-game goalless drought, much of the attention about the Maple Leafs surrounded what was wrong with Toronto's top line of James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak.

Bozak had just one assist in his previous six games entering Wednesday's home date with the Ottawa Senators. Van Riemsdyk had just two points in his last five, and Kessel had just one goal in his previous three games.

The big line broke out for a combined seven points as the Leafs edged their provincial rivals 5-4.

Toronto (15-9-0) extended its winning streak to three games. The Leafs are 11-4-0 in their past 15 games.

Ottawa (12-8-4) fell to 0-2-2 on its current five-game road trip.

The game started on a subdued note. Twenty-six seconds in, Toronto's Frazer McLaren and Ottawa's Dave Dziurzynski dropped the gloves just inside the Maple Leafs' blue line. McLaren knocked out Dziurzynski mid-fight, and the Senators rookie fell to the ice face first.

"We had a flat start last game, I was just trying to get us going early, and I asked him, and he actually said 'no,'" said McLaren, who needed eight stitches to close a cut he sustained in the fight. "Any time you get in a fight, you never want to see (someone get hurt). Obviously, I hope he's OK."

Dziurzynski lay motionless on the ice for a few moments before Ottawa's training staff was able to help him off the ice. Dziurzynski, who was playing in just his 10th NHL game, suffered a concussion and did not return.

"It was kind of a shock. I was on the ice and kind of froze for a bit," said Senators forward Zack Smith. "It's pretty scary to see. You never know how bad a guy's hurt until he comes around a bit, and even not until later.

"As soon as we got on the ice, (McLaren) was asking him to fight. I don't know if he felt he had to, but McLaren went after him. That's what McLaren does, and it was definitely good for Dziurzynski to step up, but I don't know if that was the best tradeoff. He's a big guy, but it's just unfortunate he put himself in that situation."

Van Riemsdyk put in the rebound off a Kessel shot 1:20 into the middle period, giving Toronto a 3-0 lead.

Ottawa made it 3-2 thanks to goals by Mika Zibanejad and Smith.

Kessel doubled the Leafs' lead to 4-2 with a power-play goal less than four minutes into the third period.

"I think we've been working pretty hard as a line," said Kessel, who finished with a goal and two assists. "We got a few bounces today, which was nice, and we were fortunate to get a 'W' today -- that's the most important thing."

Kadri extended his point streak to six games with his 10th goal of the season near the midway mark of the third. The unassisted goal put the Leafs in front 5-2.

After Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson made it 5-3, Colin Greening got the Senators to within one with under two minutes remaining, beating James Reimer with a backhand off a pass from Erik Condra.

With the goaltender pulled and under a minute remaining, Ottawa could not find the equalizer.

"It was fun to watch wasn't it? That's what it's about right?" joked Reimer, who made 39 saves to improve to 9-3-0. "Give (Ottawa) credit, they brought pressure. They brought pressure all game, but especially in the third, they were pushing to win this one ... but we got the win. It's a good, positive (result), and hopefully we'll be a little better (Thursday at Boston)."

Bozak opened the scoring at 6:24 of the first period, snapping an eight-game goalless drought.

Less than a minute later, Toronto made it 2-0 when Jay McClement scored his fourth of the season.

Zibanejad's goal was his fourth in his past seven games. Smith's goal was his second in his last 57 games dating back to last season.

Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop made 23 saves.

NOTES: The Maple Leafs improved to 12-1-0 when leading after two periods, while the Senators dropped to 2-5-0 when trailing after 40 minutes. ... Ottawa had been held to three goals or fewer in its past 13 games coming into Wednesday. ... The Senators entered the night ranked 29th in the league with an average of 2.13 goals per game. ... The Senators snapped a three-game losing streak against the Maple Leafs in their last meeting, Feb. 23. ... Wednesday marked the third of five meetings this season between the teams. It's also the halfway mark of the season for both teams. ... Leafs forward Matt Frattin missed his 11th game with a knee injury. ... Toronto signed defenseman Korbinian Holzer to a two-year contract extension worth $1,575,000. ... Stompin' Tom Connors, a Canadian music icon famous for the "The Hockey Song," died at the age of 77 Wednesday night.
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