Did you miss me? That’s good, because I missed you too. More than that, I missed Leafs hockey. I missed the butterflies before a game, the thrill of the Leafs scoring, the frustration of being scored against. Although it wasn’t quite the same feeling before this game, that frustration kicked in pretty early, as there was a delayed penalty on the Leafs, and Tyler Randell blasted a shot past Curtis McElhinney to put the Sens up 1-0. Shortly thereafter, Dominic Moore was called for the new face off violation for having his foot in front of the hash mark of the circle. The Leafs penalty kill looked a bit rusty, as Mike Hoffman fired a shot wide of the net, looked skyward, tossed his stick in the air, caught it, and scored to make it 2-0 Sens. Hoffman would make it 3-0 shortly thereafter as he got a breakaway, and beat McElhinney with a one handed backhand shot where it didn’t even look as if the Leafs netminder moved. Late in the first the Leafs would get a power play of their own and William Nylander would feed Auston Matthews who fired an absolute rifle past Craig Anderson to make it 3-1. That would be short lived however as Mark Stone would score almost immediately afterwards to make it 4-1, which is how the frame would end. Bright spots for the Leafs in the first aside from the obvious Nylander/Matthews combo was the play of Travis Dermott, Timothy Liljegren and Miro Aaltonen, who all looked like poised NHL players despite their lack of big league experience. It’s very likely that Liljegren and Altonen end up in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies, but there is a very real chance that Dermott sticks with the Leafs to join Connor Carrick on the third defensive pairing, and he certainly helped his case here.
Despite multiple power plays, including a five on three that featured noted sniper Matt Martin the Leafs were unable to solve the Senators goaltending duo of Craig Anderson and Danny Taylor. The Sens managed to beat Garrett Sparks twice, as Gabriel Gagne and Cody Ceci tallied to make it 6-1, but let’s be honest, the score here doesn’t matter as much as what we’re seeing. Obviously you don’t want to be down 6-1, but after two periods, we’ve seen positive, standout performances from Timothy Liljegren, Travis Dermott, and Calle Rosen. Rosen looked a bit tentative in the first, but came into his own in the second period, including quarterbacking the second power play unit. Rosen, along with Travis Dermott, Andreas Borgman are among those competing for the left defence spot on the third pairing, and Dermott, as well as Rosen have made excellent cases for themselves. We’ll likely see Martin Marincin and Borgman tomorrow night as one of the most intriguing competitions for a spot on the roster will continue.
The Leafs went into the third period down 6-1, and they came out of it down 6-2, but that isn’t to say that good things didn’t happen. There was a particularly dominant shift by the Matthews line following a terrific save by Garrett Sparks, as the trio along with Calle Rosen, cycled the puck for over a minute in the attacking zone, they were unable to score, but that was more due to excellent goaltending and just plain bad luck than anything. The Leafs would add a power play tally late in the period as William Nylander would get on the board from Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews, so that unit continues to excel. Despite the Leafs falling 6-2, we should be heartened by the performances, of Matthews, Nylander, Dermott, Liljegren, and Rosen. Tomorrow night we’ll likely see the other half of the squad, including the likely Leafs debut of
Ottawa Goal2:20 — T. Randell (1) assisted by M. Stone and B. Sexton
Ottawa Goal4:25 — M. Hoffman (1) (power play) assisted by A. Burrows and D. Phaneuf
Ottawa Goal7:08 — M. Hoffman (2) assisted by C. Jaros
Toronto Goal18:48 — A. Matthews (1) (power play) assisted by C. Brown and M. Rielly
Ottawa Goal19:23 — M. Stone (1) assisted by J. Pageau and D. Phaneuf
Ottawa Goal16:17 — G. Gagne (1) assisted by T. Randell and T. Chabot
Ottawa Goal17:42 — C. Ceci (1) assisted by Z. Smith and M. Stone
Toronto Goal17:05 — W. Nylander (1) (power play) assisted by M. Rielly and A. Matthews
SHOTS ON GOAL