Senators lose to Leafs, no longer control fate

The Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Senators 3-2 in a shootout, stealing a n important point from Ottawa as the Sens look to make the playoffs.

TORONTO — Mark Stone and the Ottawa Senators would rather worry about themselves and not watch the out-of-town scoreboard. They’ll have to do a little of each after losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night at Air Canada Centre.

The Senators stayed alive in the playoff chase by picking up a valuable point but missed an opportunity to move into the driver’s seat to make it. Now they need help to finish off an improbable run to the post-season.

"At the end of the day these guys are much further down the standings than us," Stone said after the shootout loss. "We need those points more than they do. For us to lose that one, it costs us a point."

That point lost against the Leafs could be the difference between Ottawa (40-26-13) making and missing the playoffs. With 93 points, the Senators are two back of the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings with three games left for each club.

The Senators host the Penguins on Tuesday at Canadian Tire Centre, but defenceman Marc Methot conceded that it stung not to leave Toronto with two points to put them in control of their own playoff future.

"We had our opportunities," said Methot, who had a shot in overtime that didn’t miss by much. "We didn’t necessarily bury any of them. That was the difference."

Goaltender Andrew Hammond, "the Hamburglar," made 36 saves in regulation and overtime but couldn’t stop Peter Holland on the shootout winner. Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk scored for the Leafs (30-43-7), who beat the Senators for the sixth straight time at home– a streak that dates to 2012.

"I think it all goes back to the motivation and wanting to play the game the right way," Toronto interim coach Peter Horachek said. "We’ve been putting a lot of pressure internally on us to play that way."

Jonathan Bernier (43 saves) and the Leafs were more than happy to put a dent in the Senators’ chances of making the playoffs and also helped the Washington Capitals make it in. The Capitals, who helped the Senators by beating the Red Wings earlier Sunday, clinched with Ottawa’s shootout loss.

After a sluggish first period in which they were outshot 22-12, the Senators roared back in the second and controlled the rest of the game.

"Didn’t have a very good first period and were good from that point on," coach Dave Cameron said.

Captain Erik Karlsson and Stone scored, and the penalty kill made sure a call on Bobby Ryan for touching the puck while on the boards didn’t cost them late in the third. Hammond kept thinking he had to "make the next save" and did so until the seventh round of the shootout.

Though they were not the aggressors for most of the night, the Leafs relished a chance to play a game that was if nothing else meaningful for their opponents.

"That’s a hockey game: Back and forth when the pressure’s on," Horachek said. "Their season’s at the brink, as well. They’ve got to win, they’ve got to collect points. But they got a point, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens to them down the stretch."

That’ll be up to the Senators and other teams around the league after they missed a chance to pick up two points Sunday night. But Methot said players were keeping their heads high, and their coach wasn’t about to declare his team’s season over.

"We’re clawed, we’re clawed," Cameron said. "We’re still alive."

Notes: Holland had the primary assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal and the shootout winner in his return from a 10-game absence because of a lower-body injury. … Leafs forward David Booth played his 500th career NHL game. … Hammond started on back-to-back nights after beating the Capitals in overtime Saturday at home.

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