The Toronto Maple Leafs' early-season miseries continue -- and even a goaltending change couldn't help.
Shean Donovan and Daniel Alfredsson scored 37 seconds apart early in the second period and Pascal Leclaire stopped 26 shots as the Ottawa Senators beat the Leafs 2-1 Tuesday night, handing Toronto its third loss in as many games.
After watching Vesa Toskala struggle in losses to Montreal and Washington, coach Ron Wilson gave Swedish rookie Jonas Gustavsson his first NHL start. Gustavsson was perfect except for the 37-second span of the second period in which he allowed a goal by Donovan off a scramble and a penalty-shot tally by fellow Swede Alfredsson -- who he grew up idolizing.
Alfredsson said he decided on his penalty shot move before stepping on the ice and found himself with a wide-open net after fooling the Leafs goalie.
"Maybe I'll be able to get him once," Alfredsson said with a smile. "I'm sure he'll be better prepared next time."
Gustavsson never saw the deke coming.
"It was good penalty shot from him," he said. "I thought he was going to shoot, but he fooled me there."
After managing little offense in the first two periods, the Leafs got on the board 5:36 into the third on Matt Stajan's third power-play goal in as many games. Stajan beat Leclaire from the left circle after a nice three-way passing play with Francois Beauchemin and Tomas Kaberle.
The Leafs, now 0-2-1, nearly tied it midway through the period when Mike Komisarek's straightaway blast from 55 feet beat Leclaire but his both posts and stayed out. Gustavsson made an excellent stop on Nick Foligno with about 8:30 to play to keep the Leafs alive, the bailed out Luke Schenn 90 seconds later by robbing Michalek after the second-year defenseman gave away the puck in the right circle.
Toronto had two late chances, but Leclaire stopped Stajan's shot and covered the rebound before a Leaf could get a stick on the puck with five seconds left, then robbed Kaberle from the left circle with less than 2 seconds remaining.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson was extremely critical of his forwards after the game and promised to put everyone through a tough practice on Wednesday morning -- telling reporters to "come early."
"We'll find most of our forwards tomorrow," he said. "That was almost an embarrassing effort from seven or eight guys who we're really counting on heavily."
Ottawa pulled even at 1-1-0 going into its home opener Thursday night against the New York Islanders. It was the first win in a Senators uniform for Leclaire, who came from Ottawa at the trade deadline last March but missed the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
"Sometimes you're looking for the first one for a long time," Leclaire said. "It's a great feeling."
Neither goaltender was tested severely in the scoreless first period, the first time in three games that the Leafs escaped the opening 20 minutes without scoring a goal. Neither team had much in the way of scoring chances while managing only eight shots apiece.
Ottawa finally got the game's first goal at 6:45 of the second off a 2-on-1 break set up by a turnover by Leafs defenseman Garnet Exelby. Chris Kelly carried down the left wing and slid a backhander in front. Jarkko Ruutu got off a shot that Gustavsson stopped, but Donovan swatted the puck out of the air and into the net with his stick. The goal survived a video review and gave the Senators their first lead of the season.
Ottawa newcomer Milan Michalek earned a penalty shot 37 seconds later when he was high-sticked by Schenn on a breakaway. Michalek needed medical attention and went to the locker room, so Alfredsson -- as one of the other Senators on the ice at the time -- took the shot. Ottawa's captain came in and easily beat Gustavsson with a high backhander for a 2-0 lead.
Wilson was critical of Schenn for not doing a better job of sticking with his man.
"Luke's got to plain play better," the Leafs coach said.
The Senators continued to carry the play through the end of the period, outshooting the Leafs 13-5 and allowing them to put little pressure on Leclaire.
-- John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
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