By Stan Smith

The Toronto Maple Leafs travelled to Ottawa on Sunday to take on the Senators in their first game of the preseason and came away on the short end of a 3-2 score. 

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The Good

After going down 2-0 in the first period the Maple Leafs came back to tie the game at two before Tim Stutzle put the Senators ahead to stay with 1:15 left in the second period with Kyle Clifford off on a chintzy goalie interference penalty. I say chintzy because the penalty could have just as easily gone to Artyom Zub who interfered with Clifford forcing him into Anton Forsberg. But, it was what it was. 

With the score 2-0, Matthews Knies and Sam Lafferty teamed up to win a battle in the righthand corner of the Senators’ zone. Knies came away with the puck and passed it back to the right point to Conor Timmins. Timmins passed it across the ice to William Lagesson. Lagesson took a couple of strides into the top of the left faceoff circle and let loose a wrist shot just as Dylan Gambrell skated right in front of Forsberg creating a screen. The shot beat Forsberg cleanly on his blocker side. 

Alex Steeves Scores

Just over eight minutes later on a power play that we will discuss later, Alex Steeves scored from almost the same area after receiving a nice one-touch pass from Roni Hirvonen with one second to go on the man advantage. Timmins picked up the secondary assist on the goal to give him two points in the game. 

After a terrible first period, the Maple Leafs outshot the Senators 17-4 in the second and 14-4 in the third period.

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William Nylander Was the Maple Leafs Best Player

While William Nylander was held scoreless, he was the best Maple Leafs player on the ice in the game.  He had a number of decent scoring chances. Nylander did not look out of place at all at center and even managed 50% in the faceoff dot, winning 11 draws and losing 11. He and Max Domi seemed to have some chemistry in the game. Domi set Nylander up for a couple of scoring chances and Nylander returned the favor setting Domi up with a wide-open net that Domi fanned on. 

Timmins was one of the better Maple Leafs’ defensemen in the game and was noticeable for the right reasons except an attempted shot from the point early in the game that sent the Senators up for an odd-man rush the other way.

Conor Timmins, Maple Leafs

Hirvonen, Knies, and Fraser Minton were also noticeable in a positive way. Knies did have one bad giveaway that went the other way. Overall he won most of the battles he was involved in.  

Maple Leafs Goalies Played Pretty Solid Hockey

Keith Pertuzelli was okay in the net and stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced in the first two periods. He didn’t have a chance on any of the Senators goals. The 1-0 goal was scored off of a scramble in front of the net and the other two goals he was screened on.

Dennis Hildeby came in for the third period and didn’t have a lot of work, facing only four shots. He looked a bit shaky the first time he played the puck and got caught out of his net. He made it back in time and got a bit lucky as a shot by Jacob Bernard-Docker rang off the post. 

After that Hildeby settled down and looked as calm and cool as he did in the prospects tournament last weekend. He did make one great save in the period to rob the Senators of what looked like a sure goal to keep the score at 3-2 Ottawa. 

The Bad

After going up 5-3 in shots just over six minutes into the game, the Maple Leafs were outshot 21-1 over the next dozen minutes before they got their seventh shot on net. The seventh shot they were credited with was more of a missed dump-in by Clifford that accidentally hit the net. 

To say the Senators owned the ice in the last thirteen minutes of the first period would be an understatement. 

The Ugly

I hate it when coaches call a time-out at the beginning of a penalty. It is like it puts added pressure on the power play. It is my experience that the ensuing power play always seems to come up lame. 

With the Maple Leafs already on the power play after Bernard-Docker was called for holding Gambrell, Tyler Kleven was called for high-sticking Knies giving the Maple Leafs a 53-second five on three. To give the first power play unit a rest, Sheldon Keefe called a time-out. The 50 seconds that followed might have been the ugliest 5-on-3 power play I have ever seen. 

The first 30 seconds of it were spent deep in the righthand corner of the Senators’ zone as two Ottawa players managed to outfight three Maple Leafs players and keep the puck pinned against the boards. When the puck finally came free, somehow all three of the Ottawa players on the ice ended up on a 3 on 1 odd-man rush the other way. Petruzelli saved the day to keep the score 2-1 at the time. Things didn’t go any better for the Maple Leafs once Bernard-Docker’s two minutes were up until the penalty was almost over. That was when Steeves beat Forsberg to tie the game. 

What’s Next?

The Maple Leafs take on the Senators at 7:00 p.m. Monday. It is expected the group that sat out the Sunday game will dress for this game. There were not a lot of players that were expected to be in the regular season opening game lineup dressed for Sunday’s game. We should see more NHL regulars in Monday’s game. Keefe did state after the game that we will see 20 different players Monday night.

Of note in this game, Calle Jarnkrok was scheduled to play but was deemed as “banged up.”  He is listed as day-to-day. Timmins left the game late in the third period. I did not hear the reason why.  

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