Maple Leafs’ newcomers thrive against Senators in pre-season debut

TORONTO — Newcomers Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and Nick Spaling wasted no time making a strong first impression on new Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock.

Parenteau scored twice and Spaling had a goal as the Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Monday night at Air Canada Centre in the Toronto half of split-squad action to open the pre-season.

Bought out by the Montreal Canadiens and signed to a US$1.5-million, one-year contract by the Leafs, Parenteau scored a power-play goal in the first period and then one at even strength in the third.

Spaling, part of the trade that sent all-star Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, had a strong showing by scoring a goal in the first and drawing a penalty in the second.

Michael Grabner, the speedy winger the Leafs acquired last week in a five-for-one trade with the New York Islanders, assisted on Spaling’s goal.

Connor Brown, a former teammate of Connor McDavid’s with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, played well in Kessel’s old spot on the first line alongside James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak.

Defenceman Stuart Percy also scored a late goal for the Leafs.

Since every Leafs player is new to Babcock, even core players were under the microscope. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced in making a strong start to what Babcock characterized as an open competition with James Reimer.

Andrew “the Hamburglar” Hammond, who led the Senators’ improbable run to the playoffs last season, stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced before being replaced by Chris Driedger. Mike Hoffman scored for Ottawa.

Notes — Joffrey Lupul scored during three-on-three overtime to give the Leafs a 4-3 victory in the other split-squad game, played at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. … The Leafs and Canadiens will play three-on-three overtime Tuesday night at Bell Centre regardless of the score as one of 45 games the NHL has designated this pre-season to experiment with the new rule. … With captain Dion Phaneuf in Ottawa, Bozak, James van Riemsdyk and defenceman Roman Polak were Toronto’s alternates. Defencemen Mark Borowiecki, Patrick Wiercioch and Cody Ceci each wore an “A” for the Senators.

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Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

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