- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) - Curtis McElhinney is already earning praise from his new teammates after just one start.

McElhinney, who was claimed off waivers from Columbus earlier in the week, made 35 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Ottawa Senators 4-2 on Saturday night.

“That was unbelievable,” said Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, who scored two goals. “He played great and gave us an opportunity to win the game. That first star was definitely well-deserved and a solid debut.

Tyler Bozak and Connor Brown also scored for the Maple Leafs, who moved into a tie with the Senators for third in the Atlantic Division at the halfway point of the season.

“For me, it was just going in there and building some trust with the guys,” McElhinney said. “It’s one of those things where you’re trying to figure out what they’re going to play like defensively, offensively and that type of stuff. There’s a little bit of sorting out, but for the most part, I felt comfortable right off the bat.”

McElhinney added that he likes the look of his new team.

“They’re real fast,” he said. “It’s unbelievable the speed they have and their willingness to make plays in tight areas is so incredible. It’s a lot of fun to be around a youthful group. It feels good to come to a new team and the most important thing is just to get off on the right foot.”

Dion Phaneuf and Kyle Turris had goals for Ottawa, and Mike Condon made 23 saves.

Kadri’s second goal of the game gave the Leafs a 3-2 lead just 2:31 into the third period.

The Senators got their first power play of the game when Frederik Gauthier went off for tripping at 4:01. Ottawa looked to have the equalizer, but McElhinney made a sprawling save to deny Mike Hoffman on his one-timer.

Minutes later, Erik Karlsson hit the post behind McElhinney and, within seconds of that, Brown gave the Leafs a 4-2 lead with a quick shot after Auston Matthews won a faceoff in Ottawa’s zone.

The teams were tied at 2 through 40 minutes after the Leafs had jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Kadri opened the scoring on the power play when he tucked a rebound underneath Condon at 6:26 of the opening period.

Bozak gave the Leafs a 2-0 advantage just 1:07 into the second when he intercepted a clearing attempt from Bobby Ryan, moved in on the Ottawa goal and waited for Condon to make a move before beating the netminder.

The Leafs were carrying the momentum through the period, but that changed when Phaneuf got the Senators on the board at 9:15 of the second. His point shot hit Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner before eluding McElhinney.

The Senators tied it at 18:50 when Turris beat McElhinney with a shot far side to the top corner.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher pointed out that the Senators led the game in several categories, including shots (37-27), body checks (38-30) and faceoff wins (68 percent).

“We hit a goalie that just stood on his head, and that’s going to happen,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “They were opportunistic, we weren’t, and in terms of stats, you can’t do much more than that.”

NOTES: Fredrik Claesson was scratched for Ottawa. Josh Leivo and Garret Sparks were scratches for the Maple Leafs. … Chris Wideman became the 100th player to play in 100 games for the Senators when he suited up against the Leafs. It was also the 100th game of his NHL career. … Senators F Mark Stone remains one assist shy of 100 for his career.

UP NEXT

Senators: play their next three games on the road, starting with the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

Maple Leafs: host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

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