There’s fewer things better than watching the Toronto Maple Leafs beat up on the Ottawa Senators, but twice in one night? Apparently we can have nice things!
Both of Toronto’s split squad teams were victorious tonight, winning 4-1 in Toronto and 4-3 in OT in Ottawa. Read on for the run downs on both games…
Toronto Rundown (from Justin)
Before we kick things off… Mike Babcock. Behind a Leafs bench. Coaching a Leafs team. When you see it for the first time, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I get that it’s just a preseason game, but it would have been pretty bad to watch the Leafs lose to the much, much, much less talented half of the Ottawa Senators organization. With their star players back home in Kanata, the Senators sent a hodgepodge squad mostly consisting of role players, prospects and long shots to Toronto. It wasn’t really a surprise to see
Newcomers P.A. Parenteau and Nick Spaling would open the scoring midway through the first period, scoring a couple quick goals just 30 seconds apart to put the Leafs up 2-0. After a scoreless second period, Toronto would pick up where they left off in the first with two more goals in the third from Parenteau again and Stuart Percy. They would concede a goal early in the third frame on a Mike Hoffman breakaway goal, but Toronto would outshoot Ottawa 39-29, thoroughly outplaying the Senators throughout the game.
And while he wasn’t exactly pushed to his goaltending limits, Jonathan Bernier had a solid 25-save night. Though he had the option to give way for Antoine Bibeau, Bernier stayed in the game for a full 60 minutes and looked sharp throughout.
Ottawa Rundown (from Jeff)
While the Leafs looked out of this game within minutes of it starting, the group in white showed that there’s room for a strong effort at any point in the year. Rather than curl up into a ball and look ahead to the next one after Bobby Ryan put the Sens up 2-0 just thirteen minutes into the game, the group recomposed themselves spectacularly.
Full credit goes to Dmytro Timashov for helping reverse the tide; he used the point well to feed both Dion Phaneuf and TJ Brennan for the goals that eventually evened things up. Erik Karlsson put the Leafs in trouble again midway through the second period, but at this point, the big guns took over. Nazem Kadri set up Joffrey Lupul not once, but twice in the remainder of the game, including the game winner.
That game winner, by the way, came in three-on-three overtime. That was something else; one mistake is enough to change the entire course of the game, and Karlsson certainly showed up. Because of this, Kadri was able to send TJ Brennan out to pull the trigger on what became the close-quarters feed for Lupul, which he used to seal the deal.
The Leafs outshout the Sens 37-32, and really, looked good for the bulk of the game. Considering this was the least impressive of the two matchups, the preseason has certainly gotten to a very good start.
In the Home Game, P.A. Parenteau gets the Blue Warrior title tonight. In his first game in a Leafs uniform (preseason, I know), one of Toronto’s key free agent signings made a great first impression with two goals. Shoutout to Morgan Rielly who was fantastic on the back end, and William Nylander, who’s pretty pass set up Parenteau’s second goal.
In the Ottawa game, there are a few worthy players but we’re going to go with Joffrey Lupul. Not only did he score the game-tying goal and the overtime winner, but he also managed to not get hurt. This is a big deal these days. But seriously though, if Toronto has any hopes of surprising some teams and creeping up the standings this season, they’ll need Lupul to play like a real top six forward – he’s certainly off to a good start. If not Lupul, you could make a solid argument for Nazem Kadri and Dmytro Timashov deserving the Blue Warrior honours tonight.
See You Tomorrow
The Leafs preseason tour continues tomorrow in La Belle Province against the Montreal Canadiens. Tune in to TSN4 at 7:30pm.