Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins Saturday at Air Canada Centre:
Hometown boy Brown scores Leafs' first home goal of the season. Although he played the majority of last season in the American League with the Marlies, Etobicoke native Connor Brown had a goal and six points in his first seven games with the Leafs last season. And the 22-year-old equaled his season NHL goal output just 2:14 into the first period Saturday, beating Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin to give Toronto the game's first lead.
No matter the level at which he plays, Brown has made a habit of being where the puck is and making good things happen, and his motor has helped him earn the trust of his coaches. The way things are starting, that process is continuing.
Video: BOS@TOR: Marner fires wrister for first career goal
Marner's first NHL goal a thing of beauty. He'd been one of Toronto's more dangerous forwards in the pre-season, but rookie Mitch Marner hadn't scored for the Leafs prior to Saturday's action. However, that changed midway through the first period, when Marner corralled a pass from teammate Tyler Bozak in stride, then fired a brilliant wrist shot past Khudobin to make it 2-0 Leafs at the 11:56 mark. Marner celebrated with emotion, and you couldn't blame him: here was another hometown kid living his dream with his team. He'll never forget this night - and Leafs fans won't, either.
van Riemsdyk steps up with a pretty goal of his own. Less than 90 seconds after Marner scored, veteran winger James van Riemsdyk boosted Toronto's advantage to 3-0 on an outstanding individual effort that ended in a backhand shot and his first goal of the season. The 27-year-old van Riemsdyk is one of the more senior players on this year's Buds squad, and after dealing with injuries that limited him to 40 games last season, he's motivated and skilled enough to have a major impact on the Leafs' fortunes. On Saturday, his goal gave the home team enough breathing room to survive the Bruins' eventual push-back.
Video: BOS@TOR: Andersen robs Pastrnak with point-blank save
Andersen looks sharp in garnering his first win with Toronto. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen had a roller-coaster acclimation period with his new team in the pre-season, but the four-year veteran was on his game Saturday, stopping 24 of 25 Bruins shots to secure his first regular-season win as a Leaf. Milan Michalek's goal early in the third period gave him some room to work with as the game went on, but Andersen made several spectacular stops and was named the night's first star for his efforts. Toronto will need him to be just as consistent as they battle for a playoff spot this year.
All in all, a special night. Between the pre-game festivities that included the announcement the Leafs would be retiring all 16 previously-honoured jersey numbers as well as a new honouree in icon Dave Keon and the game itself, this was a night that gave Leafs Nation a chance to marvel at the organization's past while being excited for its future. The offensive impact of Brown and Marner - two players still at the beginning stages of their NHL careers - combined with the nod to the indelible mark Keon and other Leafs legends left on the league and the game sent an impressive message to the team's fans: for as great as the franchise has been in the past, great days are still to come.