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Leafs close out season in Ottawa
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will cap a disappointing season Saturday in Canada's capital city, as the sliding club visits the Ottawa Senators for a clash at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Maple Leafs were in second place in the Atlantic Division as of March 13 but fell apart down the stretch and wound up missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. Toronto was officially eliminated from postseason contention after Tuesday's 3-0 loss in Tampa and then lost a 4-2 setback Thursday against the Florida Panthers, dropping the club to 2-11-0 over its last 13 games.
On Friday, the Maple Leafs made a big announcement they hope will lead to brighter days ahead for the organization as the club named Brendan Shanahan team president. Shanahan, a Hall of Fame player, had been serving as the NHL's disciplinarian, directing the league's department of player safety since June 1, 2011. Leafs general manager Dave Nonis will report to Shanahan, who will take over his new role immediately.
The 45-year-old Ontario native was an eight-time All-Star during his storied playing career with the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers. Shanahan was a member of three Stanley Cup championship teams in Detroit, scored 656 goals and finished his career with 1,354 points in 1,524 games.
Toronto fell to the Panthers after a three-point night from Florida's Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad assisted on Brad Boyes' goal with three seconds left in the second period to help give Florida a 2-1 lead before scoring twice in the third.
Tyler Bozak and Paul Ranger each scored or Toronto, while Drew MacIntyre, 30, made his first NHL start between the pipes and stopped 33 shots in the setback.
"It was a lot of fun," MacIntyre remarked of his first career start. "It's been a long time, but it was awesome. I was hoping it would be a win, that's how I envisioned it, but anyway, I'm glad that the first one's out of the way and I very much hope that I get another one someday."
Toronto is closing the season on a three-game road trip and is just 14-19-7 as the visiting team this season.
The Senators are also out of the playoffs, but they will try for a fourth straight win when they stage their final home game of the campaign on Saturday. Ottawa, which will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011, is 17-17-6 at home and caps the 2013-14 season tomorrow in Pittsburgh.
Erik Karlsson netted the lone shootout goal as the Senators clipped New Jersey, 2-1, at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday. Ottawa hopes to tie a season-best winning streak with another victory tonight. The Sens won four in a row earlier this season from Dec. 28-Jan.4.
Robin Lehner made 38 saves for Ottawa against the Devils and Mike Hoffman provided the team's lone regulation goal.
"Guys understand that we're expected to battle and to try to win every night," said Senators captain Jason Spezza.
Toronto has won six straight over the Senators and is 3-0 in the 2013-14 season series, although two of its wins came via shootouts. The Leafs have won nine of 10 overall in this matchup and have claimed three straight and five of the last six encounters in Canada's capital.
04/12 09:46:20 ET