In front of the adulation of 19,612 fans at Scotiabank Arena, John Tavares was introduced as the 25th captain in Toronto Maple Leafs franchise history.

Tavares went on to register one assist in his team’s 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on opening night.

The Good

  • Auston Matthews continued his dominance in season openers, collecting a pair of goals to give him a career total of nine tallies in four such games. He converted on a two-on-one from William Nylander in the second period, then followed it up with a power play goal, set up beautifully on a ‘spinerama’ pass from Mitch Marner.
  • The Leafs bottom two lines were a pleasant surprise on the evening as they contributed for three goals. Fredrik Gauthier scored Toronto’s first goal of the year, pouncing on a rebound. Gauthier is nicknamed ‘The Goat’, but the unflattering goat on the play was ex-Leaf defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who ended up pushing the puck in his own goal.
  • Trevor Moore got his first tally of the season on a setup from Ilya Mikheyev. The second assist on the play went to rookie defenceman Rasmus Sandin, the Leafs’ 2018 first round pick.
  • For good measure, Mikheyev collected his first career NHL goal after converting a cross-ice feed from Tyson Barrie.
  • The game turned in the Leafs’ favour in the second period when Toronto successfully challenged an apparent goal by Hainsey that was ruled offside – by a fraction of a millisecond as the attacking Senators player had his trailing skate off the ice upon the zone entry.
  • Toronto’s penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3.

The Bad

  • After all the buzz surrounding the game’s opening ceremony, the crowd was somewhat subdued when the Leafs gave up the first goal, just 25 seconds into the game, courtesy of Brady Tkachuk
  • Frederik Andersen collected the win on what was a mediocre night for the netminder. Andersen still should have made the save on the Hainsey disallowed goal. And the netminder, perhaps too comfortable with a late three-goal lead, had a turnover and an ill-controlled rebound that led to the Senators third, albeit inconsequential, tally by Bobby Ryan.

The Ugly

  • Coach Mike Babcock didn’t need to create a firestorm by sitting veteran forward Jason Spezza in favour of Nick Shore. Spezza deserved the start in his hometown, against his long-associated former team nonetheless.

Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca.

In 2019, Rob co-wrote with Evan Gubernick “Hockey Addict’s Guide: Toronto”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.