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Leafs Fall to Sens In Preseason Opener

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

September 18, 2005

TORONTO (CP) _ Brandon Bochenski is being given every chance to make the Senators and the former North Dakota star took advantage of it in his first pre-season game Sunday night, scoring a goal and adding an assist as Ottawa beat Toronto 5-2.

Andrej Meszaros, Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for the Sens, who rallied to beat their Ontario rivals in the NHL exhibition opener for both clubs before 18,948 at Air Canada Centre.

Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored first-period goals for the Leafs, who like the Senators found the penalty box rather often as the new crackdown on obstruction was in full force. The two teams combined for 19 power plays, more than double the nine man advantages the NHL averaged in 2003-04.

The result was a more open affair Sunday night, with players going to the net without a stick or a glove slowing them down. Allowing the two-line pass also showed early results, Spezza and Bochenski both sent in alone with long-bomb passes but failing to score.

Bochenski, 23, was noticeable, looking dangerous on a line with Spezza and Dany Heatley. The line was in on three goals and spent most of the night in Toronto's zone. Bochenski, who had 70 points (34-36) in 75 AHL games last season, appears ready to make the jump.

"He's a natural goal-scorer,'' Sens GM John Muckler said between periods. "He's scored at every level he's played at. (Head coach) Bryan (Murray) is giving him a real chance to show what he can do.''

The biggest knock on the six-foot, 180-pounder is his skating, but he makes up for that with great positioning and good anticipation.

"He's real smart player, he reads the play well,'' Muckler said.

Bochenski tied the game 2-2 at 10:32 of the second period, snapping a wrist shot from the slot over Mikael Tellqvist's right shoulder. Alfredsson then scored the winner at 12:03, blasting a slapshot to the top left corner and popping the water bottle off the top of the net behind J.S. Aubin.

Meszaros, a highly touted Slovak prospect on defence, made it 4-2 after he moved in from the point and snapped a wrist shot between Aubin's goal nine minutes into the third period _ play started with Bochenski's forechecking in the Toronto zone. Fisher added an empty-net goal to complete the scoring.

The Battle of Ontario was not the battle of no-names as one might have expected for pre-season hockey. Both clubs had most of their regulars in the lineup although 40-year-old goalies Dominik Hasek of the Senators and Ed Belfour of the Leafs got the night off. Ray Emery went all the way in goal for Ottawa and stopped 19 of 21 shots.

The Leafs won the penalty shootout after the game after Mats Sundin and Eric Lindros _ who had a quiet game _ scored on Emery while Heatley and Alfredsson were stopped by Aubin.

Notes: The Leafs next play Boston in Hamilton on Tuesday while the Senators face Pittsburgh in Binghamton on Friday ... Brian McGratton, who had 551 penalty minutes in the AHL last season, got into a spirited bout with Wade Belak in the first period, with both tough guys connecting major blows.

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