GARRIOCH: Short Senators close preseason with loss to Leafs

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The auditions came to an end on Saturday night with the Battle of Ontario at the Scotiabank Arena.


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Now it’s on the show, this is it for the Ottawa Senators.

Facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the last exhibition game, the Senators knew this would be a tough test with a slim lineup as they lost a 4-1 decision.

Preparing to open the regular season against the Leafs on Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Center, this lineup was nothing like the one that general manager Pierre Dorion, coach DJ Smith and the rest of the hockey operations staff will present. to the league by Deadline Monday at 5 pm to declare the list.

At this juncture, it seems like there isn’t much of a chance that restricted free agent winger Brady Tkachuk will sign with the Senators in time to play Game 1. That can always change, but one side will need to make the decision to lean into their stance to prevent this from dragging into the regular season.


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The plan that came in this one was to play a lineup as close to the opening night version as possible, but that didn’t happen. The injuries to Colin White, Clark Bishop and Austin Watson presented opportunities for other forwards signed by Belleville to have another chance to show they can dress for the club this season.

There was no Josh Norris, Shane Pinto, Thomas Chabot or Artem Zub for this one in Toronto. Smith said there was a cold (not related to COVID-19) running through the locker room, so the decision was made to seat those players to dress the others.

The club called in forwards Egor Sokolov and Dillon Heatherington from Belleville to prepare for this game. With White and Bishop out for an extended period, Andrew Agozzino prepared for his sixth exhibition game while trying to fill that role, while Logan Shaw also played.


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Nick Paul was used at the center and can play there at times during the season.

“I feel comfortable in the center. I’m a little rusty with some players, but I felt good there, ”said Paul.

Senators will make their final decisions on who stays and who will approach their AHL affiliate in Belleville. Much of that will depend on the health of some players.

“It was a typical last exhibition game,” Smith said. “Guys who know they are in the lineup and are trying not to hurt themselves. It is understandable because that is what usually happens. There were some good things to get out, but at the end of the day we still have some guys to evaluate and some guys have to go to Belleville.

“We have to solve that. I thought we looked really tired tonight and when you don’t bring and when you don’t bring all of your guys it takes the shine off putting our full lineup on. We played and looked tired. “


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Even without Auston Matthews, who is expected to play the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, the Leafs are a tough test and Smith wanted to see how some players handled it.

“It’s great. You can’t do that in practice, working against guys like John Tavares and Mitch Marner, in the defensive zone,” Smith said. “I know we played Toronto in the first two games, it’s as good as any practice for our guys take on some of the best in the world. “

The Leafs took control in the second period by taking a 4-1 lead with three unanswered goals. Not long after Anton Forsberg took over between the tubes, John Tavares extended the Leafs’ lead by deflecting a shot home at 15:03 from the front.

Earlier, Pierre Engvall received a pass from Tavares and beat Matt Murray on the glove side. Smith wasn’t sure of the plan for his goalkeepers on this, but with 9:09 left in the period, he went to Forsberg and the Sens lost 3-1. That could be because the senators didn’t want Murray to be bombed.


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Murray had a solid preseason. He stopped 13 of 16 shots, was more aggressive around the net and seems to be in a good place for the start of the regular season. Much of Ottawa’s success depends on him making the big stops this year. That’s something they didn’t see last year.

Nick Ritchie gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead at 5:35 of the second by receiving a pass from Wayne Simmonds in the middle of the ice and beating Murray low. Sens’s netminder didn’t stand a chance on that as Ritchie was in the slot.

One guy trying to take advantage of Tkachuk’s absence is Alex Formenton. He tied this with 12.7 seconds left in the first when he was able to redirect a perfect pass from Connor Brown for Campbell. Formenton is not afraid to go online and it certainly paid off in this case.

“I’m hungry for a place this year and I want to show that I can play here and help as much as possible,” said Formenton, who has played the last two seasons at Belleville.

An instigating penalty to Scott Sabourin for dropping the gloves after a hit to Stuetzle proved costly. That allowed the Leafs to open the scoring in the power play at 11:03 of the first with a shot from Morgan Rielly’s point that deflected Josh Brown when he beat Murray’s stick.

Later in the third, Sabourin also took off his gloves with Simmonds.

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Twitter: @sungarrioch



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