Mike Babcock was back behind the bench at the Air Canada Centre tonight, but his team was one with red and white jerseys and national pride on the line. Meanwhile, the Leafs’ rookies continued their push towards the start of training camp in London, Ontario, as they played the second game of their rookie tournament. While they opened things up by beating the Ottawa Senators yesterday, today saw them take on the Montreal Canadiens and, once again, come away with the win.
Daniel Audette opened the scoring for Montreal early in the first period, but an unlikely hero came in to equalize. Was it Mitch Marner? Dmytro Timashov? The man formerly known as Andreas Johnson (he’s Johnsson now)? Nope, it was none other than much-debated 2016 draft pick Keaton Middleton who levelled the tallies.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 17, 2016
Toronto pulled away for a short while afterward. Tony Cameranesi was the benefactor of a sequence that started with a defensive zone board battle and ended up in a counter-attack where the former draft pick and present AHL signing knocked in his own rebound to make it 2-1. Tobias Lindberg followed that up not much long afterward, grabbing a loose puck in front of the net and ripping it five-hole with no hesitance.
The Habs didn’t go down without a fight, however. A point shot by Victor Mete was redirected by Artturi Lehkonen into the back of Antoine Bibeau’s net, and a few minutes afterward, Michael McCarron tied things up with a powerplay tally.
Toronto needed another big moment to avoid overtime, and once again, they got one. This time, it was Andrew Neilsen who was the man of the hour, putting the game out of Montreal’s reach with this point shot:
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 18, 2016
It was a game where the Leafs looked a little bit flashier and a little more skilled than their opponents, as the expectation has become as the prospect pool has grown. Mitch Marner one again looked head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates, while Trevor Moore and Rinat Valiev impressed for the second game in a row.
With the win, the Leafs improve to 2-0 over the course of the weekend. The Leafs will go at it one more time tomorrow, taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 4:35 PM.