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Ottawa Senators goaltender Joonas Korpisalo makes a save as Toronto Maple Leafs' John Tavares looks on during the second period in Toronto. The Senators won 6-3 on Nov. 8, 2023.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Claude Giroux stepped up to support his coach.

The veteran forward then dragged his team into the fight on the way to securing a much-needed win following a tumultuous stretch both on and off the ice.

Giroux had two goals and an assist, Tim Stutzle put up four points and the Ottawa Senators scored three times in the third period to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 on Wednesday.

Giroux voiced frustration with fans and media in the nation’s capital some 24 hours earlier after the Senators were booed off the ice during Saturday’s 6-4 home loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Canadian Tire Centre crowd also chanted for head coach D.J. Smith to be fired over the weekend with the team having lost two in a row and five of its last six in regulation.

“We’ve had a lot of adversity ... a lot of things happening,” Giroux said following Wednesday’s triumph. “We can take a little breather.”

Dominik Kubalik also scored twice for Ottawa (5-6-0), while Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist. Mathieu Joseph chipped in three assists. Joonas Korpisalo made 27 saves.

“A lot of noise around us,” said Stutzle, who broke out with a goal and three assists. “We showed we can win hockey games.”

William Nylander, with a goal and an assist, Tyler Bertuzzi and Nick Robertson replied for Toronto (6-5-2). John Tavares added two assists.

“We’re facing adversity early,” said Nylander, whose franchise-record point streak to open a season now stands at 13 games. “It’s good for us to grow and build. We’ve got a lot of new guys here.”

Joseph Woll stopped 21 shots for the Leafs, who were booed off the ice after tying an ugly club record set in 1976-77 by allowing four or more goals in a seventh consecutive home game to start a campaign.

Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said his concern, not surprisingly, was “very high” when it comes to the roster’s defensive issues.

“We celebrate guys who score big numbers and score a ton,” he said. “We don’t talk enough about what we give up.”

Wednesday’s victory aside, the positive vibes around the Senators after new owner Michael Andlauer finally took control in September feel like a distant memory.

The team entered play last in the Eastern Conference, while brutal headlines away from the rink have included unsigned winger Shane Pinto’s 41-game suspension for violating the NHL’s gambling policy and the loss of a first-round draft pick for a botched 2021 trade that cost general manager Pierre Dorion his job.

Fans then booed the club and called for Smith’s dismissal, which prompted some pointed post-game comments from captain Brady Tkachuk.

But it was all smiles on this night.

Andlauer was outside Ottawa’s locker room and embraced his coach following the victory.

“Not easy,” Smith, down three injured defencemen, said of the last few weeks. “But it is what it is. It’s the NHL, it’s the best league in the world.

“If you don’t play the right way, you get stung.”

Kubalik snapped a 3-3 tie on a power play at 11:56 of the third period when his pass went in off the skate of Leafs defenceman Mark Giordano.

Ottawa made it 5-3 just 45 seconds later when Stutzle finished off a pretty passing play with his third.

“Not good enough by me,” Woll said of his performance. “I need to be better.”

The Toronto netminder then turned the puck over behind his net to Stutzle, who found Giroux in front for his fifth at 15:07 as Ottawa scored three times in 3:11.

“A leader for our team,” Joseph said of Giroux. “A guy that we can rely on day and night.”

Tied 1-1 after the opening period, Ottawa grabbed its first lead 1:04 into the second when Giroux scored his fourth.

Toronto replied at 4:16 when Bertuzzi buried his third – and first at even strength.

Chychrun put the visitors back in front 3-2 at 14:06 with his fifth on a shot from the slot that beat Woll through the five-hole.

Toronto tied it up again at 7:42 of the third when Robertson took a pass from Max Domi on a 2-on-1 and chipped his first upstairs on Korpisalo before Ottawa exploded.

“We’ve got to pull together to keep pucks out of our net,” Keefe said. “It’s out of control.”

The Leafs snapped a four-game slide (0-2-2) with Monday’s wild 6-5 overtime victory against Tampa, and opened the scoring at 5:47 of the first when Nylander wired his seventh on a power play.

Kubalik responded with his third 1:24 later on a long shot that fooled Woll, who came on in relief against the Lightning after Ilya Samsonov was pulled with Toronto trailing 4-1.

Korpisalo made a terrific glove stop on Auston Matthews – the NHL goal leader entering play with 13 in 12 games – with less than a minute left in the period to keep the teams level before Giroux got the Senators back in front shortly after the intermission.

“This guy’s played a long time in the National Hockey League,” Smith said. “He knows the way that the game’s got to be played.

“A lot of nights when your best players are your best players, you win.”

Zub, McCabe still out

Senators defenceman Artem Zub (upper-body injury) sat for a seventh consecutive game, while Leafs counterpart Jake McCabe (groin) missed his sixth straight contest.

Ottawa was also without blueliners Thomas Chabot (broken hand) and Erik Brannstrom (concussion).

Swedish sojourn

The Leafs and Senators each have two more games this week before heading to Sweden along with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild for the NHL’s Global Series.

There won’t be a European edition of the Battle of Ontario, but Ottawa and Toronto will suit up for a pair of contests in Stockholm.

Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg said getting away from the nation’s capital after a trying few weeks will be good for his group.

“Maybe relax a little bit, get your mind off hockey,” the Swede said of exposing teammates to some of the country’s culture. “And then hopefully having that relaxation when we’re playing the games.”

All-star plans

With the NHL all-star game set for Scotiabank Arena in just under three months, the league announced its fan fair will run Feb. 1-4 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Samsonov’s struggles

Pulled in two of his last four starts, Samsonov was on the ice prior to the morning skate for a session with goaltending coach Curtis Sanford.

“Putting in the work,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe explained. “The only way to get through it is to continue to work.”

Samsonov is 2-1-2 this season with an ugly .855 save percentage and a 4.11 goals-against average in seven appearances.

Up next

The Senators host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, while Leafs are home to the Calgary Flames on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first reported Nov. 8, 2023.

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