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Pre-Season Game Recap: Maple Leafs beat Senators 4-1... AGAIN!

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John Tavares’ little brother Tyler Ennis scores twice in Toronto’s win over Ottawa.

2015 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 27: Jeremy Bracco reacts after being selected 61st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators by a score of 4-1 for the second time in as many nights. Tyler Ennis scored twice at the end of the game to seal the victory for the Leafs. He now is tied with John Tavares for the team lead in preseason goals. What timeline is this?! Auston Matthews and Jeremy Bracco also scored on the Sens. They got the first two goals, respectively, for the Buds.

Freddy Andersen started the game for the Leafs and played in periods one and two. He stopped all 19 shots he faced. Calvin Pickard came in for the third and stopped five of the six shots he faced, keeping the Leafs ahead at all time.

To echo Brigstew in yesterday’s recap:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH TYLER ENNIS IS A LEAF AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

First Period

The first decent chance early came for newly-acquired Senator Chris Tierney, who attempted to stuff a wraparound past Frederik Andersen (who is sporting a new mask). At the other end, Auston Matthews fired a long shot on Sens goalie Craig Anderson, while Patrick Marleau and Tyler Ennis fought for the rebound. Matthews’ puck control was so obviously above the level of the game it was striking. I’m really interested to see how much his skating has improved since the summer.

Pierre Engvall was visible early taking a couple of (not his best) shots, trying to make an impression. Got some moxie though and we know he can shoot. Let’s find out if I talk about him again later!

Carrick attempted a breakout and gave the puck away to Zach Smith, which means he’s probably never playing again. It took steadying presence Martin Marincin (!) to get the puck out. He and partner Nikita Zaitsev haven’t been been fully tested in terms of getting the puck out with control. Their most notable attempt saw Marincin skate at the speed of syrup only to drop it back to Zaitsev, who could only skate to the right a little bit before handing the puck to Matthews.

The Sens’ combo of Tierney and Stone, consisting of bona fide NHL forwards, naturally looked good early and had multiple looks Freddy Andersen had to turn aside. There were few whistles in the first ten minutes; I would say the Sens looked a little better than the Leafs based largely on the Tierney-Stone combo and the Leafs’ defence making sloppy failed exits, but this wasn’t a great start for either squad.

More of the same: Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin tried to make long passes out of the d-zone and they ended in a giveaway and an icing, respectively. But on the side of the coin, they have both shown the ability to step up at the blueline and force the other team to dump it in. They don’t look afraid of getting physical either.

Par Lindholm might be the Swedish version of Dominic Moore. He has a good set of wheels, decent puck handling skills, he knows where to be on the ice, and isn’t afraid to be gritty. His play in this game has done nothing more than make me wonder why the heck Babcock didn’t like Moore.

After getting the puck from Connor Carrick in his own zone, Matthews tries to go up the left side of the ice. He quickly runs out of real estate and gives up the puck to soon-to-be-not-a-Sen-anymore Mark Stone on a breakaway and nearly beat Freddy to the blocker side. Not a great end to the period for Matthews, especially if that puck goes in.

After One

The first period ends scoreless between the Leafs and Sens. Toronto trail in shots on goal by a score of 6-7, meaning things were essentially even.

After one, I’m a little unimpressed with Matthews. Of course it’s a little unfair to compare his start to the phenomenal one John Tavares (who is a Leaf) and Mitch Marner had last night since his little buddy William Nylander — who isn’t so little anymore — is still left without a contract. I’m not trying to expect much from him, but it’s hard not to notice.

Sandin and Liljegren are progressing nicely in my eyes. They play the Kyle Dubas style of defense that Travis Dermott has made famous among Leafs Nation — close gaps at the blueline, mobile skaters, and the ability to get the puck to the forwards ASAP — so that’s good to see.

Second Period

In their first shift of the second, the Matthews line with Zaitsev and Marincin were able to get a few good chances near the net, Ennis had the best set up when he was able to shimmy his way out of the corner and sent a feed to Matthews in the blue paint that just missed.

As the shift deteriorated, Zaitsev was forced back into the neutral zone. He made a weak bounce pass up the boards that was nearly stolen, but Matthews was able to stick lift the Senators forward and get the puck back into the offensive zone before skating off to the bench.

Other than that half-chance, the Sens have been in their own zone for pretty much the whole start of the second. Credit to Adam Brooks, Jeremy Bracco, Liljegren and Sandin for keeping the Sens in their zone for a whole shift and then some. Despite losing three of their best players from last season (possibly four or five, depending who makes the fringes of the Leafs lineup), I think the Marlies will be just fine.

1-0

The same unit talked about earlier jumped back on the ice barely three minutes later and combined to score the first goal of the game. Ennis was able to win a battle in the corner and get the puck to Zaitsev, who put it on net. The shot got cut off by a defenseman in front of the net, but came right to Marleau. Instead of shooting, which was the obvious move, the old man chose to feed Matthews who had just gotten away from his defender for an easy open-net goal.

A little bit more on Zaitsev. He’s been getting the job done when it comes to getting the puck out of the zone (after the forecheckers have already bailed), but he just looks slow and a little lackadaisical with the puck. It’s a very stark contract to the young players like Liljegren, Sandin, and Calle Rosen. Maybe it’s the Gardiner effect and he’s just being poised with the puck? What do you think? Tell me in the comments. I’m dumbfounded.

Freddy the Goat and Zach Smith have a few interactions behind the Leafs’ goal line. The two exchanged some words (possibly about Roller Coaster Tycoon?) and some shoves. Ref shouts that the next time they start something after the whistle, it’ll be penalties. Goat is a pretty mild mannered guy, for the most part. He doesn’t usually get into fights unless his . habitat is encroached on.

After getting hemmed in his own zone for an extended shift, Liljegren is forced to take a holding penalty in the latter half of the second. The Leafs were able to kill off the actual penalty, but Filip Chlapik was able to dance around the entire team and nearly score on Freddy on the delayed call. The defenseman he stole the jock of was Marincin, by the way.

After Two

With a dominant first half of the period, the Leafs were able to bring the shot battle back into their favour with a 14-12 shot advantage. Matthews was able to get the goal. The kids were able to dominate Belleville. Everything’s looking up!

Third Period

Calvin Pickard stepped into the crease to start the third for the Leafs and will try to close out this game for the Leafs. He’s my personal favourite to win the back-up job, so as I’m writing this recap, here’s hoping he did well!

Stone-hands Stone takes a slashing penalty early in the third, giving the Leafs another power play opportunity. In the first PP shift, Matthews attempts a dangerous shot from his usual spot at the top of the circle. The puck grazes the post and goes wide. Later in the power play, Bracco is called for tripping, sending the two teams to some 4-on-4 action.

Midway through the period, Johnsson and Lindholm were able to catch one of the Senator defensemen standing still at the blueline. Johnsson feeds Lindholm for the chance, but he just barely whiffs on the shot in the backhand.

2-0

Not to fear, Jeremy Bracco is here! On the next shift, Rosen waited for Bracco to burst by the Sens defenseman “covering him” and get fed for a clear-cut breakaway from between the hashmarks. Bracco goes backhand, forehand, five-hole to give the Leafs a commanding two-goal lead. Okay, those leads aren’t always commanding, but we’re talking about Ottawa here.

Bracco gets caught high-sticking Cody Ceci for his second penalty of the game. This was one of the issues troubling Bracco with the Marlies last season. He made mistakes in his own zone that led to having to take penalties, and he got caught losing focus sometimes. Those are both things that will improve with time. He was just a rookie, after all.

2-1

On the penalty kill, Chlapik scores on Pickard after being left all alone inthe middle of the blue paint. Marincin was off to the side and lost his man. The Sens come back to within one.

This has been one of those seasaw games for MarMar. He looked great early in the game, but as the minutes tick by, he just keeps making more and more mistakes. Players are able to get away with that kind of stuff in the AHL since the players aren’t as “in your face” as they are in the NHL, but in the big leagues, players like Marincin can get caught often if they don’t step up their game.

3-1

With three minutes to go in the game, Ennis gives the Leafs the brace they need! Ben Harpur gives the puck right to Ennis, almost like a centering pass from the corner to the slot. Ennis winds up and fires a perfect shot off the bar and in, giving himself a nice reward for his great play tonight with Matthews and Marleau.

4-1

Ennis would later get his second of the game, matching John Tavares in preseason scoring, with an empty net goal with 20 seconds left in the contest. Yay!