The Battle Ontario has begun, and first blood has been spilled.
Specifically at the Canadian Tire Centre, where the methodical Sens have caused Toronto regular-season grief the past few seasons.
The Maple Leafs head coach may be presiding over a hot start by his young and speedy team, but he is still trying to get them to realize they can not skate and stickhandle their way out of trouble, with Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Senators providing the proof. Those were the early days of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, and no one was quite sure how quickly Toronto might turn things around.
Nylander scored on the power play at 12:52, pulling the Leafs to within a goal but they would get no closer. The Kings are the only team in the National Hockey League that has not lost in regulation, sporting a 6-0-1 record for first place in the Pacific Division.
The loss also became the first blemish on the Leafs' road record as they had entered the game with three wins in three attempts.
"We don't get to see them as much, but we're aware of how well they are playing", Hainsey said. Brown did not get 11th point last season until his 24th game.
The intense Sens frustrated Toronto shooters, crashed the net on Nate Thompson's opening goal and got traffic for a Ryan Dzingel tip of a Karlsson shot.
"The minutes he plays, he is really physical, he is good defensively and he will break a play up in his own end and jump right into the rush", said Rielly, who leads the Leafs in total ice time through eight games.
The Leafs' league-leading faceoff men won the majority in the dots, but were nailed for a violation late in the middle period that slowed momentum. However, after the Leafs score two quick goals there was serious concern with the Sens lead reduced to one. Craig Anderson made his seventh start of the season and had 28 saves for the win. Stone's second goal was in an empty-netter.
"We don't want him to adapt (to limited ice time), we just want him to play hard".
"I feel awful for him. Play hard and everything will work out".
"He's a huge part of the Kings", Leafs winger Patrick Marleau said.
- If you froze time like in the movie Click, and picked up the puck and placed it in the ideal spot with your hand, you would've put it exactly where Nylander put it on that power play marker. "We got our competitive level up, but they were better than us (and) they deserved to win". DiDomenico was a sixth-round pick of the Leafs in 2007. "That team was nearly in the Stanley Cup Final previous year".
Ottawa coach Guy Boucher took a timeout to calm his troops and the respite paid off, as Stone intercepted Nikita Zaitsev's pass off the face-off and scored past Andersen on the rebound. "We, as a team, talked about having a good start because these are the types of games that add up and make a big difference toward the end of the year". "I was just lucky to have another opportunity to play the game I love".
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