Saturday, September 24, 2022

Maple Leafs, Senators split doubleheader to open NHL pre-season CBC Sports

Sheldon Keefe admitted that it felt like he should be ready to drive home.

The Maple Leafs head coach was speaking to reporters after a 4-1 win over the Senators to open the NHL’s exhibition program on Saturday afternoon.

the only problem? Toronto and Ottawa had 60 minutes of hockey to go as part of the rare split-squad doubleheader.

“It’s weird, it feels like 10 [p.m.] Right now,” Keefe, who arrived at the Scotiabank Arena before dawn, said after Game 1 at about 4 p.m. “I haven’t seen daylight until today. But it serves a purpose for me and for us and for our team.

“So for that reason, I think it’s a good thing.”

Mark Castelik scored the winner as the Senators came back from a 2–0 deficit in the third period to reduce the Leafs to 4–2 and take the Twin Bills’ second contest.

Angus Cruikshank, Josh Norris and Tyler Motte, in a blank net, were other targets for the Senators.

Ottawa’s supposed backup netminder Anton Forsberg made 13 saves in just 30 minutes of play when he resumed the regular schedule the following month.

Calle Jarnrock had both goals for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov, in his first appearance since signing with the Leafs in free agency, intercepted all 16 shots he faced in two periods of action. Michael Bunting had two assistants.

“It was weird,” Bunting said of the doubleheader. “We were leaving the morning skate and other people were coming to play.”

In the first game, Justin Holl had one goal and one assist, as Toronto won 4–1 on three straight shots in the second.

“It’s a long day, but I’m coaching hockey,” Keefe said at the end of the night. “It’s a great day. It’s a great way to get back into it.”

The Toronto Star Powers up for the Nightcap included Auston Matthews, Morgan Reilly and TJ Brody. Ottawa faced Norris, Brady Takachuk, Drake Batherson and Thomas Chabot.

Jarnrock, who was signed to a four-year contract with free agency, opened the scoring in the second period of Game 2 with a shot from a pass from Matthews. He doubled the lead through another on another snipe after Forsberg was replaced by Antoine Bibeau.

Cruickshank cut the lead in the half five minutes to third over Keith Petruzzelli, who played the final period for Toronto.

Norris leveled the game 2–2 on the power play, with seven under regulation remaining, before Castelik buried the winner just 22 seconds later. Motte sealed it late after Jarnrock hit Mads Sogard’s post in the Ottawa goal less than a minute later.

rare scenario

The rare curtain-raising scenario of the exhibition event marked the first time a split-squad doubleheader has played at the same venue on the same day, while it was the second such instance for the Senators after meeting the New York Islanders in St. In Johns, NL, 2014.

Among the benefits for teams is getting more players into live game action with the bat.

This was also something very different.

“You get through all in one day,” said Senators head coach DJ Smith. “for [coaching] Staff and trainers, yes it is tough. oh well.”

Toronto’s post-game media availability following the opener marks the first time journalists have been allowed inside an NHL locker room since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.

“Nice to have you guys back,” said Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds with a grin.

“Nice to have you back,” Keefe said. “like.”

Dennis Malgin, who didn’t have a point in eight appearances during his first go-round with Toronto in 2019-20, and Alex Steves had other goals for the Leafs in Game 1, while Mark Giordano added three assists. Eric Kalgren stopped seven shots in his 40 minutes of work.

Tim Stutzl answered for the senators. Cam Talbot made 10 saves in just 1 1/2 periods of action.

Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander were in the lineup for Game 1. Acquired by the Leafs from the Senators in July, Matt Murray wasn’t up for any competition.

Stutzl led Ottawa in the afternoon slump, while Talbot, Alex Debrincat and Claude Giroux suited up for the first time since joining the club as part of a busy off-season in the nation’s capital.

Jake Sanderson, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, made his professional debut for the Senators.

Ottawa opened the scoring for the first time in the middle when Stutzl took a stretch pass to score on the visitors’ only shot of the period.

The number 3 pick in 2020 skated between Debrincat and Giroux in his pre-season debut for Ottawa.

“It’s all about the chemistry,” Stutzl said. “I’m really happy and glad I can play with them.”

Toronto scored three goals apart just 2:14 in the second.

Hole scored on a shot with Zack Aston-Reese – a veteran forward looking to build the roster on a professional tryout – screening Talbot. Malgin then took a slick feed on an awkward rush from Naylander before Giordano’s point shot was deflected off Steves for a 3-1 advantage.

Stevens added a blank-net goal late on.

So, any advice for fellow coaches preparing for an NHL doubleheader?

“Make sure you go to bed early,” said Smith, laughing. “There’s a bit of mental fatigue.

“But we’ll be fine.”

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