It’s been a frenzied atmosphere in Toronto the last few days, and the Ottawa Senators have enjoyed being a part of it.
They likely won’t see anything resembling that Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have suffered consecutive losses under new coach Mike Babcock to begin the season, though they have won six straight at home over the Senators heading into this Atlantic Division matchup.
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Ottawa got into town Friday in time to take in some baseball playoff action featuring the Toronto Blue Jays. Senators players and coaches were spotted wearing Blue Jays caps at Friday’s practice.
"It’s one of those rare opportunities where you’re going to be in the middle of a city that’s all fired up," coach Dave Cameron said. "I think most of these guys, if you probably go back, played some type of baseball, fast-pitch, whatever. I know that a lot of them are fans because I’ve heard them talk so it’s nice to be in the middle of that."
Cameron’s team opened with a 3-1 victory Thursday in Buffalo behind two goals from Kyle Turris that were both assisted by Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman.
The Senators are 0-3-3 in their last six games at Toronto, where the notoriously difficult-to-please Maple Leafs faithful figure to be in an angry mood Saturday.
The club’s 37-30 advantage in shots wasn’t good enough to prevent a 3-1 loss to Montreal in the home opener Wednesday. Two days later, Babcock – brought in on an eight-year, $50 million contract – had an unhappy return to Detroit as Toronto fell 4-0 against his former team.
”I don’t think I was surprised at how good Detroit played or anything like that,” Babcock said. ”I just think we have to be better.”
Babcock gave Jonathan Bernier his second straight start and the goalie made six saves on nine shots, with James Reimer replacing him and stopping 12 of 13.
James van Riemsdyk has the lone goal this season for Toronto, which traded Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh in July after the much-maligned forward led the Leafs with 61 points last season. The club added new forwards Brad Boyes, Nick Spaling, Shawn Matthias and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
”I think we’re all sick of losing,” Matthias said.
Another loss would give Toronto its worst start since it began a franchise-worst 0-7-1 in 2009-10.
Ottawa closed the 2014-15 regular season on a 6-0-1 run to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season. The lone blemish in that span was a 3-2 overtime loss at Toronto on April 5.
The Senators failed to get a power-play opportunity Thursday and were outshot 27-22. Craig Anderson made 26 saves and Curtis Lazar scored into an empty net.
"I don’t think it was a perfect game from everyone but we didn’t expect that either," captain Erik Karlsson said. "For the most part, we played good and then obviously there’s a few things we’re going to have to address moving forward but that’s how it always is in the beginning of the season."
Anderson is 0-2-2 with a 3.63 goals-against average in his last four starts against Toronto after going 6-1-0 with a 2.06 mark in his first eight meetings.