Mitch Marner with career-high 5 points, Leafs beat Senators

Mitch Marner scored two goals and recorded three assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the Ottawa Senators.

TORONTO — Mitch Marner had a smile from ear-to-ear following his milestone night.

The only thing missing on Saturday was a hat-trick.

"It’s always in your mind. You know, it’s always a pass mentality in my head."

Marner scored twice and recorded a career-high five points, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3 at Air Canada Centre.

Auston Matthews, James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau also scored while Frederik Andersen made 22 saves for the Leafs (33-19-5), who have seven wins in their last eight games.

Craig Anderson was pulled by the Senators (19-26-9) in the first period after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Johnny Oduya, Derick Brassard and Ryan Dzingel supplied the goals.

Marner became the first Leafs skater to record five points in a game since Tomas Kaberle, who did it on Oct. 26, 2009.

Marner had been like many standout second-year players who fall prey to the dreaded sophomore slump at times this season. After a successful rookie season in which he scored 19 goals and added 42 assists in 77 games, he had scored just twice through the first 34 games this season.

He had bounced around the lineup until Jan. 24. The, in a game against Chicago, he found himself placed on a line with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau.

The line has since stayed intact. On Saturday, the trio combined for 10 points.

"He’s been working hard in practice, and now it’s starting to show in the game," Leafs coach Mike Babcock said about Marner. "He was (playing like that) the full 60 minutes. I don’t how many pucks he stole. I think a ton of them."

"We just seem to generate offensive opportunities," added Kadri. "I think we’ve been responsible and playing good defence, which is translating to good offensive opportunities. We’ve been able to cash in when we get them."

Toronto opened the scoring in the first period. Marner picked up his first goal of the game after he picked up a loose puck in the slot and placed his wrist shot past the right side of Anderson for a 1-0 lead at 1:55.

The Leafs added to their advantage when Matthews fired a shot top shelf past Anderson at 9:55.

Toronto capped the scoring in the opening frame with Marner’s second goal of the night. He took Marleau’s pass from across the slot at 11:30 to make it 3-0 and chase Anderson out of the net for the night.

"It was really just the first period that killed us," said Mark Stone, who made his return to Ottawa’s lineup after missing nine games due to a leg injury, "We gave up too many chances to be able to come back from that."

Mike Condon played the rest of the game in goal for Ottawa. He made 28 saves on 30 shots.

Oduya fired a snap shot from the circle past Andersen’s glove to cut Toronto’s lead to 3-1 at 8:32 of the second period.

The Leafs would restore the three-goal advantage when Marner’s centring pass hit both Codi Ceci and van Riemsdyk before bouncing past Condon. The power-play goal gave Toronto a 4-1 lead at 13:51. Morgan Rielly collected a career-high 28th assist on the goal.

The Senators opened the third period with a goal from Brassard to cut Toronto’s lead to 4-3 at 0:45.

Kadri replied for Toronto. He scored his 18th goal of the season to make it 5-2 at 2:29.

Dzingel scored Ottawa’s third goal of the game at 13:32 before Marleau added an empty-net goal for Toronto at 18:38. Marner collected an assist for a career-high five-point night.

"We had to find a way to slow him down, check him better," Derick Brassard said of Marner. "It felt like he had an answer for everything, he was on the puck, he made plays. He was the difference tonight."

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