Leafs begin pre-season on painful note
Trounced 5-0 by rival Senators
ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
|Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mike Zigomanis tries to get a shot on Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner. (REUTERS/ Mike Cassese)
TORONTO -- Prior to Tuesday night's NHL pre-season curtain-raiser, Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he's not about to pencil rookie Nazem Kadri into the opening-night lineup until he earns it.
After a humbling 5-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Kadri had plenty of company.
Granted the team iced by Wilson "featured" less than 10 players likely to make the squad, it wasn't much of a show for the "Fans First" free ticket promotion at the Air Canada Centre. But the Senators had left many of their stars at home as well.
First-period goals by Jesse Winchester and Nick Foligno - both on defensive blunders by the Leafs.
On the first, Winchester was left alone in front of starting Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson while three players were caught behind the net.
On the second, Foligno waltzed around new Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and went in all alone on the Monster, who is preparing for his second season in Toronto.
The worst was yet to come in the second period, however, when the Leafs twice had five-on-three power plays for more than 1:20 and couldn't get a shot past Ottawa goaltender Brian Elliott. In fact, they could barely get a shot on him - registering just one through that entire stretch of two-man advantage.
The Senators added to their lead later in the second when Corey Locke was left alone in the deep slot and blasted one high to the glove side that beat rookie Leafs goaltender Jussie Rynnas. The big Finn replaced Gustavsson midway through the second as per Wilson's plan.
Chris Neil made it 4-0 midway through the third, which brought out some serious boo-birds. It got worse when Chris Kelley added another minutes later on a shot that beat Rynnas stick side, giving him the dubious NHL debut of allowing three goals on his first nine shots.
Meanwhile, Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner was sharp in the other end to earn the shutout.
Prior to the game, Wilson made it clear that Kadri would have ample opportunity to make the team but wouldn't have it handed to him.
"I've got see if Nazem Kadri can play in the NHL," Wilson said. "I'm not handing him a job. He's got to earn it.
"He has to play well. He has to find a way to put points up there. He can't let us down defensively."
Like most of his teammates, Kadri did little to distinguish himself in the opener, the first of five games in five nights and a league-high nine in the pre-season.