Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 8-1 exhibition win over the Buffalo Sabres Friday at the KeyBank Center:
No goals Thursday for Leafs, but a different story Friday. The Leafs failed to score on the Sabres in regulation time, overtime or the shootout during Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Sabres in St. Catharines, Ont., but with a different lineup Friday in Buffalo, it was a different story almost immediately: Toronto opened the scoring on William Nylander's first goal of the pre-season at 4:39 of the opening frame, and although Sabres centre Derek Grant tied it up approximately five minutes later, the Buds got three straight goals - two of them from blueliner Matt Hunwick - before the first intermission and never looked back.
The Leafs added three more markers in the second period and another in the third, and in the process did a solid job building their confidence with the puck. Toronto won't light up the opposition like this - whether it's pre-season or regular-season - very often, but the Leafs didn't take their foot off the gas when they had an advantage, and that's an important mindset to bring to the rink as the regular season approaches.
Toronto's youngsters step up on scoresheet. Toronto's onslaught of offence was led by blueliner Frank Corrado, who had three assists on the night, but he had no shortage of help: five other Leafs amassed two points - including forwards Peter Holland (two goals), Mitch Marner (two assists), Kasperi Kapanen (one goal and one assist) and defenseman Jake Gardiner (one goal and one assist), while a whopping 15 Buds had at least one point. Needless to say, this was not the Sabres' finest moment in defending, but you have to give credit to the Leafs' balanced attack. And when you see it's Toronto's younger players who are enjoying success, you're right as a Leafs fan to be optimistic for the future.
Enroth sharp in first action as a Leaf. Veteran netminder Jhonas Enroth made his debut with Toronto Friday - against a Sabres team for whom he played for the first five seasons of his NHL career - and the 28-year-old Swede stopped eight of nine shots in 30:52 of action before he was replaced by rookie Antoine Bibeau. Enroth, who signed a one-year deal this summer, will support starter Frederik Andersen, but he has the ability to provide stability between the pipes when he does get the call. (Having a boatload of contributions from the offensive side as he did Friday doesn't hurt his comfort level, either.)
Babcock in the building, but not on the bench. Leafs head coach Mike Babcock was in the arena Friday, but watched the game from the upper loge while assistant Jim Hiller handled the main coaching duties behind Toronto's bench. It was Babcock's way of easing himself back into the mix after being absent from the early portion of Leafs training camp - winning a gold medal coaching Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey was as good an excuse as you'll ever have for an absence - but there was little doubt Leafs players were intent on making him aware of their presence. And judging by the score, they did just that.
Next action should be tougher for the Buds. After storming out to a massive lead and maintaining it, the Leafs managed to avoid tensions rising in the third period and there were no scrums and/or injury situations to dampen the overall mood for the visiting side. That said, Toronto's next action - this Sunday against the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens at Air Canada Centre - very likely won't be as low-key an affair, regardless of the result. The Leafs and Sabres have a long rivalry, but there's nothing like an Original Six showdown to get the competitive juices flowing, and the Buds' first pre-season game at the ACC this fall should be a spirited contest and a good test for the home team.