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Five Takeaways - Leafs @ Senators - 09/18/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 6-2 pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators Monday at Canadian Tire Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Sens build big lead in opening period as Leafs struggle to stay out of penalty box. In their first game of the pre-season - and with a roster that was a mixture of NHL mainstays and youngsters trying to earn a spot on the squad - the Leafs found themselves trailing 2:20 into the opening period after a misjudged line change led to a delayed-penalty goal by Senators winger Ty Randell.

Discipline proved to be an issue just 2:05 later, as Ottawa winger Mike Hoffman beat goalie Curtis McElhinney for a power play marker to double the home side's lead. And the Sens made it 3-0 at the 7:08 mark on Hoffman's second of the night. This certainly wasn't the start Toronto head coach Mike Babcock envisioned, but resilience was a hallmark of his team last season, and as the new group gained familiarity among themselves, he no doubt expected some bumps in the road in pre-season.

Video: TOR@OTT: Matthews nets power-play goal off crossbar

2. Matthews puts Toronto on scoreboard, but Sens strike back in short order. The Leafs got their first man advantage with 1:23 left in the first period, and Toronto wasted no time, as sophomore centre Auston Matthews took a crisp cross-ice pass from linemate William Nylander and roofed it past veteran Craig Anderson just 11 seconds into the power play to cut the Senators' lead to 3-1.

However, 35 seconds later, the Buds experienced another defensive miscue, and on an odd-man rush, winger J-G Pageau lifted the puck to teammate Mark Stone, who put Ottawa back up by three goals heading into the first intermission.

Matthews made a habit of scoring Toronto's first goal of the game last year, and although this one was another thing of beauty, the Leafs needed to be more focused on the ensuing faceoff. In this instance, they weren't, and the Sens made them pay.

3. Ottawa increases lead with marker late in middle frame. Toronto turned up the heat on the Senators in the second - outshooting Ottawa 11-8 in the period - but the only goals of that frame came in the final 3:43: winger Gabriel Gagne knocked the puck past netminder Garret Sparks (who replaced McElhinney at the 11:33 mark of the period) at 16:17; and at 17:42, blueliner Cody Ceci increased the lead to 6-1.

The Buds did themselves few favors through the first 40 minutes, as defensive assignments were missed and lines of communication were crossed - and again, this Senators team, even in the pre-season, has a slew of veterans who can do damage when given enough opportunity.

4. Penalties continue to be an issue for Leafs in third period. The Buds had a tough hole to get out from under in the third, and discipline continued to be a problematic area in the final regulation period: winger Zach Hyman was called for slashing 3:37 into the frame, and less than three minutes later, Hyman went back to the penalty box for the same infraction and winger Eric Fehr was called for roughing at the same time. Ottawa's Zack Smith also received a slashing minor, so the Leafs only had to kill off a 5-on-4 Sens man advantage, but that was the Senators' fifth power play of the night, and that's far too many in a league where special teams have a major impact on the final result of most contests.

All in all, the Leafs had two slashing minors and two faceoff violation minors called against them - two areas in which the league is taking a harder stance on this season - and though the Sens scored only on one of them, there was virtually no chance they could come back from a big deficit when they were regularly playing a man short. Nylander did score with 2:55 left in regulation time when he converted a one-timer shot on the power play, but by that point, it was much too late to pull even.

5. Natural rivalry heats up as game goes on, setting stage for emotional rematch Tuesday. The provincial rivals have a natural dislike for one another, and as the game unfolded, emotions beween the two sides began to boil. That will likely make the rematch between the clubs Tuesday at Air Canada Centre a little more hotly-contested, even though the lineups will be notably different as Babcock and Sens counterpart Guy Boucher experiment with new faces and alternate line combinations.

Still, it's easy to see why there's enmity between these franchises. The provincial link provides the key reasoning, but there's also a divisional rivalry that factors in, and veterans of previous battles never forget what went down in the past. Tuesday's game will probably be at least as chippy as this one got late in the evening, but once that one ends, it won't take long before they're back at it: the Leafs and Sens will see each other again in Toronto's eighth regular-season game this year - Oct. 21 in Canada's capital city in a Saturday night showdown.

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