OTTAWA — Joey Daccord hopes his parents watched him play Sunday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But he wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. Even he didn’t know he was going to play.
Drake Batherson scored two goals in 53 seconds in a 4-3 Ottawa Senators victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Sunday evening. But Daccord was the story Sunday, as he made 33 saves on 36 to earn his first National Hockey League victory after learning he’d get the start during pre-game warm-ups.
“What an incredible feeling,” Daccord said. “The effort the guys gave tonight was outstanding. Just a really special moment.”
Senators goalie Matt Murray was supposed to start in goal Sunday, but he left the ice due to injury during pre-game warm-up, leading to Daccord taking his place.
“A couple minutes before warm-ups, (Murray) came back to the locker room and (said) ‘hey, I don’t know if I can play, I’m going to try in warm-ups’. And then a couple of minutes into warm-ups, I just was skating by the bench. One of the trainers just gave me the point and I was like ‘alright, let’s do it’,” Daccord said.
Brady Tkachuk and Ryan Dzingel also scored for Ottawa (10-20-1).
Zach Hyman scored two goals and William Nylander added another for Toronto (19-9-2). The Maple Leafs tried to come back from a 4-1 deficit with two third period goals, but their comeback fell short. Toronto now has one win in their last six games and won’t play again until Friday against the Calgary Flames.
“I think we just really had a poor start,” Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews said. “They scored a couple early. And we were just chasing the game the rest of the time.”
Michael Hutchinson started for the Maple Leafs but he was pulled from the goal after allowing two goals on three shots. Frederik Andersen played in relief and made 26 saves, but he too allowed a pair of goals.
Despite Daccord coming in cold, he fared better than his Toronto counterparts. Even if his first save of the night saw him collide with a Leafs forward and into his own net. Daccord said he joked with backup Kevin Mandolese about the incident during the first intermission.
“I came in the room after the first period,” Daccord said. “I looked at (Mandolese) and I said ‘how nervous were you when first shift I got smoked into the net?’ And he was like ‘no, no, I knew you were fine’. That would have been crazy if that happened,
“I remember I stood up and I looked at the ref and said ‘no better way to get into it.’ It was good. Happy I made the first save this time.”
Tkachuk scored the first goal of the game a little over six minutes into the game. The Leafs failed to clear the puck from their zone, leading to a turnover. Tkachuk took the puck and fired the puck in between the pads of goaltender Michael Hutchinson. The puck trickled past the red line to give the Senators a 1-0 lead.
Seven seconds later, Dzingel crept past the Leafs defence and scored to make it 2-0. The Leafs then pulled Hutchinson in favour of Andersen, who allowed five goals on 32 shots in a loss to Winnipeg Saturday night.
Senators forward Austin Watson and Maple Leafs defenceman Zach Bogosian would then exchange fisticuffs to cap off a wild 35 seconds of game action.
With 8:22 left to play in the period, Zach Hyman scored to cut the Senators’ lead in half, and the Leafs entered the first intermission down a goal.
Batherson would restore the Senators two-goal lead five minutes into the second period with a power play goal. Tim Stutzle drew in defenders before making a backhand pass to Batherson, who would bury his team’s third goal of the night.
He would add a second goal 53 seconds later.
Leafs defenceman Ilya Mikheyev thought he scored with a goal with 9:59 to go in regulation, but the goal was overturned due to goaltender interference. Hyman would eventually get his team’s second goal of the game with 5:20 to play. Nylander would have his team draw within a goal with a little over two minutes to play, but it wasn’t enough.
Toronto will return to action Friday against the Calgary Flames. Ottawa will play the second game of a back-to-back against the Vancouver Canucks.