A lot of us have been expecting our fair share of disappointment and defeat as fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, but I think we were probably expecting that from the main roster and not from the organization’s top young players.
Ok, so – let’s not get carried away. An opening night loss in a rookie tournament will probably be the least of the Leafs’ worries this season. Still, Toronto traded one too many chances with the Ottawa Senators’ rookie squad this evening, coming out on the wrong side of a 5-4 OT final score.
The Senators would come out of the gates quickly, scoring a goal only 30 seconds into the game while many of us were still fishing a beer out of the fridge. That’s why it’s so important to keep at least two bottles in the door of the fridge, people. So, so important. Remember, this is preseason prep for all of us.
While Ottawa would jump out to an early lead, a trio of newcomers would help the Leafs bounce back. Nikita Soshnikov, a free agent signing out of the KHL, would bury Toronto’s first goal with new draftees Martins Dzierkals and Dmytro Timashov picking up the assists. The first period would end in a 1-1 tie.
Lots of back-and-forth play would kick off the second period, but it wouldn’t be until late in the second period when goals would be exchanged again. First it would be William Nylander on the powerplay, walking in from the top of the circle and snapping the puck top corner on the short side. Not long after, Ottawa would tie it up at 2’s before heading into the second intermission.
The end-to-end action would continue in the third period, but with a few more goals this time around. Nylander would score again and put the Leafs ahead, and Ottawa would respond shortly after. Dermott would add another powerplay goal with under two minutes ago, and the Senators would respond again just before the end of regulation.
In overtime, it would be an early and innocent looking play – a high shot from Tobias Lindberg – that would put the Senators ahead once in for all, clinching the 5-4 win.
Without a doubt, it was Nylander. Like I said in today’s Roundtable, a tournament like this shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for a player who spent last year lighting up professional leagues in both Sweden and North America (though, admittedly, I was referring more to Kasperi Kapanen), but Nylander played exceptionally well and demonstrated just how skilled and advanced a prospect he is.
Game Two Tomorrow
Toronto will return to action tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadiens rookie squad. Tune in to RogersTV at 7:30pm if you’re in the Toronto area.