For a night dedicated to Maple Leafs fans, with all tickets handed out for free, Toronto certainly didn’t give the crowd at the Air Canada Centre anything to cheer about.
The blue-and-white began their exhibition campaign with a 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, showing there is still much work to do during the rest of the pre-season.
Toronto had 24 unspectacular shots, and went 0-for-8 on the power play, including three opportunities with the two-man advantage.
Head coach Ron Wilson says there are reasons those power plays didn’t result in any goals.
“One, we haven’t worked on five-on-three yet,” he said. “Two, not unlike our problem last year, we’re really hesitant to move pucks quickly. There’s three or four things wrong, but stuff that we’ll work on moving forward.”
With a revolving door on the Ottawa box in the second period, as the Senators took five penalties in the first six minutes, the Leafs could get nothing going.
After making it through that stretch unscathed, Ottawa increased its lead to 3-0 on a goal by Corey Locke at 15:20, making it that much harder for Toronto to come back.
On paper the Leafs had the stronger roster, with many of their big names suiting up for the game. Captain Dion Phaneuf, Tomas Kaberle, and Kris Versteeg all saw plenty of action.
Meanwhile, Ottawa chose not to play veterans Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Mike Fisher.
Chris Neil was the highest point scorer of the night with a goal and two assists for the Senators.
His goal was the fourth of the night and came when he lifted a pretty backhand shot into the net.
It was an ugly game from the beginning, as both teams came out looking lethargic. The Leafs were infinitely slower though, as Ottawa was able to score two goals in the first.
They also outshot the blue-and-white 17-5 in that opening period.
Jesse Winchester netted a goal just six minutes into the game after the puck bounced off the boards and came back to the right-winger.
Not four minutes later, Nick Foligno took the pass from Neil, skated by Phaneuf, and backhanded it past netminder Jonas Gustavsson.
Chris Kelly also scored for the Senators.
Gustavsson allowed two goals on 18 shots and was swapped out for Jussi Rynnas halfway through the second period – a planned change to give both goaltenders some playing time.
Rynnas saved seven of 10.
Robin Lehner of Ottawa was solid in net, finishing with a shutout after stopping all 24 shots he faced.
The battle of Ontario, pre-season version, will continue on Wednesday when the Leafs and Senators duke it out at the Air Canada Centre once again.