First, Mats Sundin took a shot in the eye. And then the Maple Leafs took a shot through the heart.
No, the Battle of Ontario's first ever shootout -- and the first in National Hockey League history -- didn't go well for the home side as it took to the ice at the Air Canada Centre for the first time in 18 months.
Sundin went to Toronto Western Hospital and later watched the 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators from his home after getting a puck near the left eye just three shifts into the game.
The Leafs nursed a 1-0 lead until late in the third period then went through overtime knotted 2-2 before Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley scored on Ed Belfour in the shootout. Eric Lindros and Jason Allison were blanked by Dominik Hasek.
There is blood in Sundin's eye socket but no serious damage to the eyeball itself.
"The sense we got is that wouldn't be part of the prognosis," a relieved general manager John Ferguson said. "But we have to look at it again (today)."
Belfour was 5:48 away from his 76th career shutout as well as ending a string of three Leafs home-opener losses. But Alfredsson scored twice, including 29 seconds after a Lindros go-ahead goal.
"I'm not even going there," Lindros said of misfiring against Hasek in a repeat of the infamous Canada-Czech Republic shootout during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.
"What a way to lose," Matt Stajan said of the NHL's new tie-breaking method. "I can just imagine losing a gold- medal game like that. But that's the rule now and we have to look at the positives. We earned a point and now we have to work on our shootouts for the next game against Montreal (here on Saturday)."
Leafs coach Pat Quinn, a vocal opponent of shootouts, also was miffed but balanced his post-game comments with praise for his team's work minus its captain. Lindros and Allison, in his first NHL regular-season game in 33 months, logged well over 20 minutes of ice time apiece, while defencemen Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe were at 30 minutes, counting 11 power plays.
"I saw a lot of positives against a very good team," Quinn said. "The disappointing part was that we missed easy assignments. We got a big goal (from Lindros in his Leafs debut) and then gave it right back."
Sundin had just taken a run at the Senators' Bryan Smolinski when a teammate's dump-in struck him from the blind side. He dropped to his knees, bleeding on to his sweater.
"He's pretty shaken up," Tie Domi said after talking to Sundin on the phone. "I'm going to see him now."
The pressure by the Alfredsson-Heatley combo was Ottawa's first sustained attack since the start of the game. The Senators, 7-1 in the pre-season, had been waiting to unleash their new lineup since their fourth playoff elimination at the hands of the Leafs back in April 2004. The Sens probably scored the game's first goal in the second minute when Smolinski snapped a shot that Belfour seemed to glove behind the goal line. But no official replay was sought.
Toronto's first goal was scored by new papa McCabe, who found the inside of the post behind Hasek.