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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Senators - 09/19/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-2 pre-season loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Marleau scores in Leafs debut

OTT@TOR: Marleau snipes wrister in Leafs debut

Patrick Marleau collects a feed along the boards and roofs a wrister past Mike Condon to score in his debut with the Maple Leafs

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1. Senators take early lead, but Marleau's first goal as a Leaf evens things up. After the Leafs opened their pre-season schedule Monday with a 6-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa, the two teams squared off again - only this time, in the Buds-friendly confines of the ACC. And although the Sens again scored the first goal of the night Tuesday when Logan Brown beat Frederik Andersen on a power play 4:28 into the opening frame, Toronto settled down shortly thereafter and grabbed their first lead of the pre-season as they headed into the first intermission.

The game-tying goal came at 11:26 of the first, and it came from new Leaf Patrick Marleau, who broke in alone to the left side of netminder Mike Condon and snapped a shot up and over him for his first goal in a Toronto uniform. The ACC crowd - who gave Marleau a solid ovation when he was introduced prior to the game - was thrilled to see the veteran score, and they were even happier approximately six minutes later, when Marleau was part of a Buds 5-on-3 power play that led to winger James van Riemsdyk connecting for his first of the pre-season to make it 2-1 Leafs at the 17:09 mark.

Considering the Leafs finished the first period of Monday's game trailing the Senators 4-1, this was a vastly improved performance to start the evening.

Video: OTT@TOR: Van Riemsdyk buries tic-tac-toe setup

2. Ottawa tightens up game, ties it late in second on power play as Leafs' discipline issues continue. Toronto outshot Ottawa 17-9 through the first 20 minutes of play, but the Senators played a tighter second period, limiting the Leafs' second chances and playing the body more effectively. In addition, the Buds gave the Sens two more power play opportunities - bringing the total number of Ottawa man advantages to six through two periods - and on the Senators' final power play of the frame, defenseman Fredrik Claesson wired a shot past Anderson at the 15:52 mark to tie the score at two goals apiece.

To be fair, virtually all pre-season games have featured a parade of penalties as officials underscore new standards on rules such as faceoff violations and slashing. That said, as was the case Monday, Toronto simply surrendered too many man advantages to the Sens, and the fact both of Ottawa's goals through 40 minutes came with the extra man says it all about the importance of special teams - and keeping your opponent from getting on the power play in the first place.

3. Leafs come close to reclaiming lead, but defensive miscue leads to Sens' first advantage halfway through third. The Buds had some golden opportunities to regain the lead in the third period - including a 5-on-3 man advantage at the beginning of the frame - but they hit a couple posts and were denied thanks to a few solid saves by netminder Marcus Hogberg. The Senators made the most of their defensive stops, and after defenceman Erik Burgdoerfer stepped out of the penalty box midway through the frame, he took the puck into Toronto's zone and began a scoring sequence that he finished himself, netting his first of the pre-season to put the Sens ahead for the first time Tuesday at 10:31 of the third.

The Leafs had all sorts of pressure on Ottawa in the final frame, outshooting the Senators 15-6 (and 40-26 on the night), but the visitors capitalized on their chances and had some good fortune on their side. That was the difference in this one.

4. Pair of empty-netters for Ottawa secures win for Sens. Leafs head coach Mike Babcock pulled netminder Kasimir Kaskisuo (who took over for Andersen at the start of the third period) late in the third, and the Senators quickly pounced, getting two empty-net markers to lock up the victory for the win.

It was an anticlimatic end for Leafs fans, but overall, the effort was an improvement on Monday's game, and Leafs Nation needs to remember the core of the team still hasn't played together for a full contest. That's coming, and Toronto's play is sure to improve as teammates get familiar with one another.

5. Buds will put these games in their memory banks, prepare for home-and-home showdown with Sabres. The Buds' pre-season hasn't began ideally, but this is the time of the hockey calendar when kinks are worked out and lessons are taught by the coaching staff, and Babcock and his staff understand they've got work to do with the players for the remaining six games of Toronto's pre-season.

That schedule continues Friday with a special game between the Buds and Buffalo Sabres in the intimate environment of Ricoh Coliseum, and the two teams head down to Buffalo the following night to square off at KeyBank Center. By that point, Babcock will be juggling lines, making cuts to the roster and slowly-but-surely putting together the team that will start the regular season Oct. 4 in Winnipeg. And Leafs Nation will continue building their excitement for the year to come.
 

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