OTTAWA - Colin Greening won bragging rights on a good friend Saturday night at Scotiabank Place. In scoring a late-game winner, he also completed a 360-degree turnaround of his week.
Greening's goal with 24 seconds left in the third period gave the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of a divided crowd of 19,499 in the Battle of Ontario.
Greening, who also assisted on the other two Senators goals, went to Cornell University with Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens. The two had dinner together Friday night in Ottawa.
"It's funny because he's expected to stop me, so if I score, I get some bragging rights," said Greening, who was a healthy scratch when the two teams met in Toronto seven nights earlier. "I'm pretty excited.
"I guess I was lucky. It bounced off him and I was able to whack it out of the air. I guess it was good hand-eye coordination. Nine times out of 10 I'll miss that."
It was the fourth win in a row for the Senators. Ben Bishop, filling in for injured No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, stopped 26 shots in the Ottawa net. Scrivens made 32 saves.
"It's frustrating. He's a good player, but you want to play a few of those better," said Scrivens. "There was a couple of knuckling pucks that forced rebounds off. One goes off a shoulder pad, one goes off a pair of pants, and they both end up in the net. There's definitely things we can learn from it.
"I'm definitely not happy for (Greening) right now."
A power play goal off a goal-mouth scramble by the Leafs Clarke MaCarthur tied the game at 2-2 with just under 13 minutes left in the third.
The Senators killed off a roughing penalty to Chris Neil that was called with 5:52 to play.
Erik Condra's briefly-debated third goal of the season with 43 seconds left in the second period gave the Senators their first lead of the night. Condra knocked goalie Ben Scrivens over and the net off its hinges as he fired the puck in the net after chasing the rebound of an Eric Gryba point shot, but replays clearly showed he was pushed from behind by Leafs defenseman Korbinian Holzer.
"I think we gave the points away," said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "I don't know how you could describe it any other way. There were a couple of instances where we could have made a better decision.
"Then we lose a faceoff clear out, and let Greening go untouched to the net. Those are assignments that cannot and will not allow you to have success. Those are critical times."
Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski and Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad traded goals in a first period that had the Senators outshooting the Leafs, 14-8. It was the fifth of the season for Grabovski, who banked a shot in off the skate of Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar.
Zibanejad's third of the season and second in two games came off a deflection of a pass by Greening.
"We've had some exciting wins," said Condra of the Senators 4-1 run since losing Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson with a severed Achilles tendon. "We've come back and won in a (seven) player shootout. We've kept it exciting. I'm sure we're going to do that for the rest of the year."
Greening figured the winning goal was "right up there" among the biggest of his career.
"I guess I was lucky," said Greening, who now has three on the season after scoring 17 as a rookie in 2011-12. "It bounced off him and I was able to whack it out of the air. I guess it was good hand-eye coordination. Nine times out of 10 I'll miss that.
"I'm trying to think of the last time I scored with (under) 30 seconds left, to win the game. I'm searching back and I'm not finding anything. It was definitely a fun experience."
Scoring against his buddy, a fellow Quill and Dagger member, made it extra special.
"We got a lot closer the last couple of years, just being in society groups and things like that," said Greening. "We've stayed close ever since. I was at his wedding last summer. That was a great memory. It was a lot of fun. It was in Canmore, all our classmates were there. It was a good time."
"If he has a good game I'll send him a text. Last night, we had dinner together. Our parents know each other really well. I know his wife, he knows my girlfriend. There's a good relationship there."
NOTES: Carlyle raised some eyebrows when asked Saturday morning about a Senators injury list that has seven regulars, including Karlsson, NHL-leading goalie Craig Anderson, top center Jason Spezza and winger Milan Michalek, who led the team last season with 35 goals. "We just haven't made as big a splash about our share of injuries, I guess," said Carlyle. "Our media isn't allowed to do that." ... Leafs defenseman John-Michael Liles was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game ... The Senators had planned to get defenseman Mike Lundin back in the lineup, but he was a late scratch with the flu .. Michalek skated for the first time since injuring his knee in a pre-game warmup five games ago. It's hoped he will return next week ... Grabovski's first period goal was his second in three games. He had an 11 game slump before that ... The Leafs entered the night searching for their 12th victory. It would have been the first time they reached that number by the 20 game mark since 1993-94.