With a lineup that could mirror the one on Oct. 2 to open the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to shut out the Montreal Canadiens at home for a score of 3-0.
The first game of their pre-season to feature their wealth of talent was able to highlight some of their depth players more than the stars.
Trevor Moore was able to shine in the first period. Earning both of his points in the first 20 minutes, the winger opened the scoring and provided the primary assist on John Tavares’s goal that doubled the lead for the home team.
The 24-year-old winger made his debut for the club last season, scoring two goals and eight points through 25 games.
His offensive production doesn’t jump off the stat sheet, but Moore is still valued for the forward depth that he represents for this current Leafs team.
“I think we can build momentum off each other, keep coming wave after wave,” Tavares said while reflecting on Wednesday night’s offence. “When we have success, we’re doing things fast, doing things quick going forward and getting pucks to the net.
“Letting our creativity come off of that and a lot of puck recoveries, tracking back harder and being able to come on the transition.”
That continuous wave of offence was on display. The Maple Leafs were able to get a total of 49 shots on goal, while only allowing 26 from Montreal.
Helped by their power play, Toronto was able to secure the victory with their third and final goal in the third period.
A one-timer from Auston Matthews to cement the Leafs’ third win of the pre-season that was fed by winger Mitch Marner from behind the goal line, right on the tape of the American centre’s stick.
Although the former first-overall pick doesn’t think the man advantage was able to be as successful as it could be.
“I think the whole powerplay is still a work in progress,” said Matthews. “Obviously, this is our first actual live game together, so there’s some good things, but some bad things as well.
“I think we just need to continue to learn and get better and better. Mitch and I haven’t really played those sides, and I know for myself, I haven’t played there in a while. Just trying to get used to it, to feel it out, and create that chemistry.”
Feeling out other teammates and strategy is exactly what these exhibition games are for. Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock still thinks that the power play can reach another level that its 1-for-4 production on Wednesday night.
“I didn’t think our powerplay was near as impressive as it could be tonight. I thought we got way too cute early, our entries weren’t smooth,” said Babcock.
While the way the Leafs entered their offensive zone might have been not as productive as the head coach would have liked, while they were set-up for the power play, players like Marner were able to have complete control.
His regular centreman Tavares recognizes the winger’s playmaking ability on the ice.
“He’s got great patience with the puck,” the 29-year-old forward said, “so I’m just trying to find a spot on the open ice to get a shot off.”
On the other side of the ice, Tavares is playing with a new winger in Kasperi Kapanen. Due to an injury, his regular linemate Zach Hyman is unable to start the season with Toronto and the Finnish winger has taken his place.
No matter what forward is on Tavares’s wing, he has the belief that they will still be successful.
“I think we have a lot of trust and belief in everyone’s ability,” said Tavares. “(We) just to have a good sense of how we all play.
“The continuity from last year, even with [Kapanen], didn’t play with him a lot, but just being around him everyday and we have a sense of his game. He’s easy to play with.”
The Leafs will see their depth tested and new teammates experience each other when they open their regular season on Oct. 2 against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Arena.