The Toronto Maple Leafs will be out to turn the tables on the visiting Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
The Senators won their season opener Thursday night at home 3-2 over the Maple Leafs, who had taken their opener on Wednesday 2-1 against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Senators scored three goals in the first period on Thursday and got outstanding goaltending from Anton Forsberg, who made 46 saves that included 23 in the third period.
Forsberg was making the first opening-game start in his career because No. 1 goaltender Matt Murray was ill.
“You’re a little bit more tense than normal,” Forsberg said. “Preseason games are one thing, but it’s a different level when it comes to the regular season. It’s a little bit harder, but it’s exciting. It’s a lot of fun.”
There was no attendance limit for the first time in Ottawa since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began last year.
The Maple Leafs scored twice in the third period on 25 shots.
“It was incredible,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “(Forsberg) works every day. He’s in shape, so when you train that hard and you get humidity and it’s hot and the fans are like that, the third period, you don’t fatigue. In the third period, he just looked confident. The goals they got were Grade A.”
The Maple Leafs had a slow start for the second game in a row.
“We weren’t getting a good enough forecheck to begin, giving them too much time to make plays and then we weren’t breaking out clean and that led to us chasing the game,” said Maple Leafs center Jason Spezza, a former Senators captain, who had a goal and an assist.
“It’s early in the year, so let’s not make something too big of a deal. But you want to find your identity as a team and we have had two slow starts, two games in a row. It’s going to be something we will talk about.”
Petr Mrazek started in goal for Toronto but left after the second period because of a groin injury. Jack Campbell, who played Wednesday, took over in the third period.
“It was too bad, you never want to see that with anybody,” said Campbell, who made 10 saves. “I went through (injury trouble) last year. He really battled for us in the second period.”
The Maple Leafs were without center Auston Matthews, who was expected to miss the first three games as he recovers from offseason wrist surgery.
The Senators were without left winger Brady Tkachuk, who agreed to a seven-year, $57.5-million contract on Thursday after holding out during training camp. He is not expected to be ready to play Saturday.
Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was not as disappointed with his team’s start against Ottawa as he was with the poor beginning against Montreal on Wednesday.
“(The Senators) were outshooting us early on, but they had nothing dangerous,” Keefe said. “We gifted them a goal … and then we give them another gift at the end of the period. I don’t put this in the same category.”
–Field Level Media