Tyler Bozak kicked off the pre-season with a bang, scoring two third-period goals including the game-winner, to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night.
Colby Armstrong and Carl Gunnarsson both scored on the power play for Toronto while Jonas Gustavsson made 11 saves and Ben Scrivens stopped 13 shots.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he like what he saw from Bozak and the other forward lines in Monday’s game.
“He’s always relaxed … and looks natural, that helps,” Wilson said. “It’s nice to know we have three lines that can be dangerous.”
Defenceman Jared Cowen scored both goals for Ottawa. Alex Auld and Robin Lehner split the goaltending duties and combined to make 26 saves.
Wilson not worried about Phaneuf fight
No punches were pulled in the pre-season as Cowen and Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf renewed the Battle of Ontario and fought more than five minutes into the game. Wilson wasn’t concerned with his captain dropping the gloves.
“No, not at all,” Wilson said. “He got challenged, he’s not going to shy away from that.”
Cowen also received an instigator penalty and the Leafs went to work on their third power play of the game. Jake Gardiner fed Armstrong for the one-timer and the 28-year-old from Lloydminster, Sask., buried it past Auld at 5:30 to make it 1-0.
The Senators tied it up at 7:25 into the second when Nikita Filatov skated around the net and passed the puck out front to an open Cowen, who fired it over Gustavsson’s left shoulder.
At 8:43 of the second, Gustavsson and Auld called it a night, giving way to Scrivens and Lehner, respectively.
Filip Kuba was called for tripping less than two minutes later and Gunnarsson scored the go-ahead goal on the power play, firing the puck from just beyond the left red circle passed a screened Lehner at 11:03. Gardiner picked up his second assist of the night on the goal and Wilson praised the 21-year-old defenceman.
“He’s a natural and a good skater,” Wilson said. “He’s going to be a really good player … we just have to wait.”
Bozak breezed around Senators defenceman Patrick Wiercioch at the blue-line and slid the puck through the five-hole on Lehner at 5:05 of the third to put the Leafs up 3-1.
Cowen pulled the Senators within one again during four-on-four play, snapping the puck from the point past Scrivens at 10:55 with Zack Smith and Colborne both in the box for roughing penalties.
The Leafs re-established their two-goal lead when Phaneuf put the puck on net as Bozak drove towards Lehner and chipped in the rebound at 13:37.
Monday’s game also saw the introduction of the green verification line that runs three and a quarter inches behind the goal-line, as well as shallower nets with thin mesh along the top and a plastic skirt along the bottom. If the puck is touching the green line during a video replay, it means it’s completely in the net.
The ideas were tested during the NHL’s research and development camp last month and the NHL’s Board of Governors meet Tuesday and may vote to implement them for the regular season.
Notes: The game opened with a moment of silence and video tribute to former popular Leafs Wade Belak, Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, who all passed away during the off-season…Attendance was announced at 18,556 … The Leafs are back at it Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre against the Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. ET.