D.J. Smith in hot seat as Senators visit Maple Leafs

D.J. Smith in hot seat as Senators visit Maple Leafs

The Ottawa Senators visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night looking to overcome their early struggles.

The Senators were booed in Saturday’s 6-4 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the fans chanted for coach D.J. Smith to be fired.

The Senators have lost five of their past six games.

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“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling any (pressure) but I’m my worst critic and I want my team to play a certain way,” Smith said. “I want my team to play right, to play hard and to play together. When you don’t win, I go home and beat myself up.

“The noise doesn’t bother me, it’s the fact that you’re frustrated as a coach and you want them to do what you do to win.”

The Maple Leafs also have had recent struggles. They ended a four-game losing streak Monday with a 6-5 home overtime win against Tampa Bay. They overcame a 4-1 deficit after one period to take a 5-4 lead, only to allow the tying goal late in the third period.

Ilya Samsonov allowed four goals on 12 shots before being replaced in the first period by Joseph Woll, who made 18 saves.

“The result helps, of course,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “If we fell short here (Monday), I’m leaving here feeling good. That second period to me was the best period I think we’ve played all season.”

Calle Jarnkrok had two goals for Toronto, including the overtime winner.

Auston Matthews had two goals and an assist. He has 13 goals on the season. Mitchell Marner had a goal and three assists and William Nylander’s assist on the overtime goal extended his points streak to 12 games.

Matthew Knies added a goal and two assists Monday after joining Matthews and Marner on the top line.

“I don’t think anyone was pouting in the intermission,” Knies said. “Everyone was just really excited to get back out there and prove people wrong and just do well, simplify and play to our strengths. Everyone chipped in today and everyone did a great job.”

Nicholas Robertson, promoted from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, had an assist.

Toronto was still without defensemen Jake McCabe (groin) and Timothy Liljegren (ankle sprain).

The Senators have had a series of injuries and setbacks.

Forwards Ridly Greig (lower body) and Mark Kastelic (ankle) are out indefinitely, and defensemen Thomas Chabot (hand), Artem Zub (concussion) and Erik Brannstrom (concussion) have each missed at least the past three games. Forward Shane Pinto is serving a 41-game suspension for activities related to sports wagering, and general manager Pierre Dorion was fired Nov. 1.

Zub could return Wednesday.

Smith was encouraged by the team’s practice on Monday, calling it “one of our best.”

“I think the old-school mentality was you get out there and you skate them for an hour and you yell, and you scream at them, and you tell them to play harder, but nothing gets fixed,” Smith said. “The approach we took today is we’ve got to get better in some areas, and that’s what we focused on. And we focused on us as a group, tightening it up, do it our way, do it right, fix it, and then get back to playing hockey. … The guys want to win. I can assure you that no one is cheating anyone in effort and willingness.”

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