Mikhail Grabovski had a goal and two assists to propel the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-3 comeback win over the Senators in pre-season action Tuesday night in Ottawa.
Cody Franson, an off-season pick up by Toronto, took a slap shot early in the third period that Darryl Boyce got a piece of and redirected into the Senators’ net, which proved to be the eventual game-winner.
John-Michael Liles, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur also scored for the Maple Leafs. James Reimer made 32 saves and was tested several times throughout the game, coming up big at crucial times.
Mika Zibanejad, Zack Smith and Nick Foligno scored for the Senators while Robin Lehner stopped 31 shots.
It didn’t start well for the Leafs, however, as Carl Gunnarsson, a defenceman who remains on the chopping block for Toronto, took a tripping penalty at 10:44 in the first. Zibanejad then capitalized on the opportunity, using slick hand-eye coordination to bat a puck into the open net to give the Sens an early 1-0 lead.
Smith put Ottawa up 2-0 just over a minute later when he took a cross-ice feed from Kaspers Daugavins and put the puck past Reimer, who was unable to make the diving save.
Toronto managed to pull itself together with Grabovski scoring a short-handed goal to make it 2-1 at 14:31 in the first.
Jason Spezza made a sloppy turnover in the neutral zone that resulted in Grabovski stealing the puck at the red-line, skating in on the right wing and ripping a hard wrist shot over the left shoulder of Lehner.
With less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, the goals kept coming as Toronto managed to tie the game 2-2 before the Senators quickly answered back to once again hold a one-goal lead.
Liles, another off-season acquisition evened the game at 18:11 on a power play when he took a slap shot from inside the blue-line that bounced off several players before finally finding its way past a confused and helpless Lehner.
The Senators responded quickly though, beating the Leafs’ goaltender just 21 seconds later after an extended free-for-all in front of the net left Reimer under an Ottawa player and unable to react as Foligno managed to put away the bouncing puck.
After a slow start to the second for both teams, Toronto tied the game at 7:52 thanks to Kulemin driving the net hard with the puck, allowing Grabovski to eventually jam in a rebound past Lehner for his second of the night.
MacArthur scored on a hard wrist shot that was beautifully set up by both Phil Kessel and Grabovski to give Toronto a two-goal lead with just under two minutes remaining.
Tim Connolly and Tyler Bozak both sat out due to minor injuries but are expected to return for Toronto’s final two pre-season games against the Detroit Red Wings this weekend. They were replaced in the lineup by Boyce and Nazem Kadri.