Two new Maple Leafs shine in debut

P.A. Parenteau and Nick Spaling score a trio of goals in pre-season home-opener

P.A. Parenteau had a strong debut on Monday.
P.A. Parenteau had a strong debut on Monday.

A pair of newly acquired Toronto Maple Leafs would provide plenty of fireworks in the pre-season home-opener.

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored two power-play goals to help the Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 in NHL pre-season action Monday night.

Parenteau scored his first goal on the power play off a one-timer set up by Morgan Rielly at 8:16 of the first period, just 28 seconds into the man-advantage. He added a second early in the final frame.

“I think I felt pretty comfortable out there tonight, I think most of the team did” Parenteau said about his first game as a Leaf. “It was a good first game, good for us.”

Just 31 seconds after the opener, Leafs new centreman Nick Spaling would put the team up 2-0 when a loose puck found the end of his stick in front of the net.

The lone Senators goal would happen at 6:48 of the third period, when 25-year-old Mike Hoffman beat Jonathan Bernier glove side on a partial break set up by Patrick Wiercioch.

Bernier would allow only the one goal on 29 shots on the night to pick up his first win of the preseason.

“I felt pretty good, I stood my ground,” Bernier said. “The way we played where we have three back-checking like that, I just have to focus on the shot and not on the wide pass.”

Andrew Hammond started in net for the Senators, but was replaced by Chris Driedger at 11:33 of the second period. The Hamburglar had stopped 16 of the 18 shots against him through 31:33 of play in his first start of the pre-season.

The best scoring chance in the second period came midway through the frame, when Toronto native Connor Brown found himself alone in front of the net, but his shot was snagged by the glove of Hammond.

Parenteau potted his second power-play goal of the game 3:58  into the final frame, putting the Leafs up 3-0. William Nylander and Jake Gardiner picked up the assists.

“He’s a good player, he has so much skill,” Parenteau said about his teammate Nylander. “He’s not the biggest of guys, but he’s so smart with the puck, so I saw that pass coming a mile away.

“He’s a really good player, he’s got a great future.”

Perhaps the loudest cheer of the night occurred early in the first period, when the 16,734 fans erupted at the sight of new head coach Mike Babcock on the brand new, state of the art scoreboard above centre ice.

In his first season, Babcock is already making an impact on the rebuilding of the Leafs through his coaching style.

“When you first go someplace and you’re trying to get them to play a certain way and do things a certain way, you’re going to do a lot more talking for a long period of time than you have in the past,” Babcock said, after the game. “I imagine that will be ongoing.”

Half of Babcock’s team would be in the nation’s capital in the other game of the two split-squad contests against the Senators on Monday night.

There, the Leafs would complete the two-game sweep of the Senators, beating them 4-3 in overtime.

Toronto travels to Montreal to take on the Canadiens on Tuesday night, while the Senators will head to Buffalo to take on Jack Eichel and the Sabres on Wednesday.