In the Toronto Maple Leafs’ first game of pre-season action, Brian Burke’s off-season acquisitions paid immediate dividends.
But it was former Leaf defenceman Andy Wozniewski who had the last laugh.
Wozniewski scored the winning goal at 7:01 of the third period to break the tie and give the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Leafs on Wednesday night.
After taking a pass in the slot from Patrice Bergeron, the Illinois native walked in off the point and wristed it past new Leaf acquisition Joey McDonald.
NCAA college products Tyler Bozak and Viktor Stalberg each had a goal for Toronto, while former Anaheim Duck Francois Beauchemin added two helpers.
The 29-year old Beauchemin, who wore an ‘A’ on his sweater, had a strong game patrolling the Leafs blue-line, making smart outlet passes while controlling the game offensively in the Bruins’ zone.
A motivated Air Canada Centre crowd of 16,872 got a taste of this year’s tougher version of the Maple Leafs
Former New York Ranger Colton Orr quickly showed the physical presence he’ll bring to this team laying out Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid early in the first period.
Soon after that Andre Deveaux dropped the gloves with former Montreal Canadiens pest Steve Begin.
Then it was Leaf rookie Jay Rosehill, who following in Orr’s footsteps, duked it out with Byron Bitz and won the fight by a large margin.
With the Leafs playing shorthanded in the first period Bozak split the Bruins’ defence, made a nifty deke on goaltender Danny Sabourin and went top-shelf to give the Leaf’s a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins tied the game early in the second on a power play goal by Begin.
After Bozak nearly missed scoring on another shorthanded opportunity, the Bruins quickly came back the other way and the ex-Hab shoveled the puck past Vesa Toskala from the side of the net.
Toskala played the first half of the game and stopped 14 of 15 shots while McDonald entered and conceded two goals on the 11 shots he faced.
With the Bruins on the power play for the second time in the period Brad Marchand took a pass from Patrice Bergeron from behind the net and wristed it past McDonald to give the Bruins a 2-1 advantage.
For the Leafs, Stalberg notched the game at two on a power play, slipping the puck through the legs of Sabourin from the side of the net, after taking a pass from seventh overall selection Nazem Kadri.
Despite letting up the lone goal in the third to hand the game to the Bruins, the physical play continued with Phil Oreskovic dropping the mitts against Bitz.
Jason Allison, attempting a comeback in a Leaf uniform was not a significant factor in the contest likely due to the fact that he hasn’t seen NHL action in three years.
“[Allison] looked like he pooped out in the second half of the game,” said Leaf coach Ron Wilson in his post-game media conference. “He’s a project going forward.
“I’m going to give him every opportunity, you have to respect what he’s done in his career.”
Wilson wants to give the veteran forward a fair shake.
“We will give him the right people to play with and see if he can get the job done,” he said. “He won’t leave here saying he wasn’t given a fair chance.”
The Leafs next pre-season matchup is this Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers in London, Ont.