OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Auston Matthews scored and Jack Campbell made 24 saves for his third win in four games with Toronto, sending the Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Jake Muzzin, William Nylander and Mitch Marner also scored for the Maple Leafs (31-20-8), who opened a four-point lead over Florida for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers lost 4-1 to Edmonton earlier in the day.
Campbell improved to 3-0-1 since Toronto acquired him on Feb. 5.
“Soupy was great for us. He made some huge saves,” Matthews said. “I mean, you see him in there and he’s having so much fun. He just loves to compete and loves to battle for the guys. He came up with some big saves and obviously a big two points for us to pull out.”
Connor Brown and Cody Goloubef scored for the Senators (19-28-11), who fell to 1-5-2 in their last eight games. Marcus Hogberg was pulled after giving up three goals on 16 shots. Craig Anderson stopped all 14 he faced.
“I don’t think it’s on (Hogberg) at all,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “I just think pucks found their way in and a couple bad bounces. I just thought it was time to change the momentum for us, more than it was a pull because he didn’t have it going.”
While games against Toronto have always brought Maple Leafs fans to Canadian Tire Centre, on this night it was hard to find a Senators jersey throughout entire sections of the building. The crowd of 18,544 was the biggest of the season for Ottawa.
“It is what it is,” Brown said. “Obviously a lot of blue-and-white fans, but we kind of fed off it and it was nice to see the building full and it was a fun environment to play in.”
The Senators average just 12,050 fans per game for the lowest mark in the NHL, leaving players with few opportunities to play in front of a packed house.
“The energy in the building definitely helps as far as getting up for the game or having that extra juice in your system,” Anderson said. “It’s unfortunate there’s so many Leafs fans, but we’ll take the full building and use that energy and I thought we did a great job towards the end pushing back and giving it our all at the end.”
Ottawa cut it to 3-2 midway through the third period when Goloubef scored his first goal since Nov. 17, 2015.
“It had been a while,” he acknowledged. “It feels good. You just do what you can to try and get the guys back into it.”
Zach Hyman had a great opportunity to restore the two-goal lead as he took advantage of a Senators giveaway and broke in alone short-handed, but Anderson made a great glove save to keep Ottawa within reach.
Marner sealed it on an empty-net goal with just more than a minute remaining. He flipped the puck into the net from deep in his own zone, launching it over the Senators defense.
Toronto opened a three-goal lead in the second. Muzzin sent a wrist shot past a screened Hogberg, who had no chance at the puck. Ten minutes later, Nylander tipped John Tavares’ shot past Hogberg to make it 3-0 and end the Ottawa rookie’s night.
Nylander’s goal was his 26th of the season, tying his father Michael’s career best with the 2006-07 New York Rangers.
“I have a way better shot than what he had, so I should be getting a couple more than him,” Nylander said with a grin.
The Senators got on the board at the 16-minute mark as Chris Tierney made a nice pass out front to Vladislav Namestnikov, who fed Brown for his 11th of the season into an open net. With his 36th point, Brown, a former member of the Maple Leafs, tied his career high.
Toronto came out of the first with a 1-0 lead after Matthews was able to squeeze a shot through Hogberg.
“Soupy played a good game for us today. I thought our team played a good hockey game,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I thought we had a really good second period. They pull the goaltender, it changes momentum a little bit and I didn’t like how we responded for that final segment in the second period.”
NOTES: With Mark Borowiecki sidelined by an ankle injury, Thomas Chabot was given the “A”. … Mikkel Boedker was the lone healthy scratch for the Senators. … Toronto canceled practice Friday because of a flu bug making its way around the team.
Maple Leafs: At the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.
Senators: Host the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
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