ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Tristan Scherwey is making a good first impression on the Ottawa Senators.
The training camp invitee scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period to lift Ottawa to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday in the pre-season opener for both teams.
Scherwey, who has spent the last 10 seasons playing for SC Bern in Switzerland, jumped on a loose puck on a Toronto power play and fired it past Kasimir Kaskisuo to give Ottawa a 2-1 lead at the 9:45 mark.
Senators head coach D.J. Smith, new to the role this season, said Scherwey’s performance suggested a promising future in the league. He also praised the efforts of new Senators Parker Kelly and J.C. Beaudin.
"I thought they worked hard, they finished checks, and if you do that in the NHL there’s still a spot for you," Smith said after the game.
Smith, a former assistant coach for the Maple Leafs, had praise for his entire team’s efforts on Tuesday, especially the goaltending work of Anders Nilsson, who stopped all 13 shots he faced through the first two periods.
"Nilsson was really good. There was a stretch in the second period where their top line really took it to us and he made all the saves that he had to make," Smith said.
Max Lajoie also scored for the Senators, with an assist by Scherwey, in an otherwise uneventful first period. Anthony Duclair added a goal late in the third to cinch the win.
Kasperi Kapanen scored the lone goal for the Maple Leafs to tie the game early in the third period. Mitch Marner, who had missed the opening of training camp while awaiting a contract extension, assisted on the play. Toronto signed Marner on Friday to a six-year, US $65.358 million deal.
Marner said it was a priority not to miss a game with his teammates. He praised his teammates, especially Kapanen for his standout goal and speed on the ice, but said focus should be on taking more shots and more precise offensive play.
"We had a couple of opportunities where we could have shot more and we didn’t, but that’s what these games are for," Marner said. "They’re for learning and getting the chemistry back."
The exhibition matchup marked the Maple Leafs’ return to St. John’s, a city that has historically hosted Toronto-affiliate teams.
Marner said he felt the love from fans in St. John’s but rejected the idea that the loss was a disappointment after a huge turnout for training camp and Tuesday’s game.
"I thought we played well," he said. "We gave them too many chances and they scored on them."
Lajoie’s goal was the only shot that made it past goaltender Frederik Andersen in the first 40 minutes.
Anderson stopped 12-of-13 shots by the end of the second period before Kaskisuo allowed two goals on five shots in the third.
Marcus Hogberg took over as Ottawa’s goaltender in the third, stopping 11-of-12 shots.
Kapanen, Marner and John Tavares were among a handful of star players on the ice for Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews did not play in preparation for Wednesday’s game between the two teams in Ottawa.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock acknowledged room for improvement but said he’s focused on getting to know players and their dynamic together during the pre-season.
"Obviously we gotta play a lot better, but for me, a big part of it was just watching guys play," Babcock said.
Lajoie, Duclair and alternate captain Jean-Gabriel Pageau were among the regular Senators players.
The Maple Leafs played their home game to an enthusiastic, packed Mile One Centre in downtown St. John’s, in their first game in the city since 2001.
The city is host to the Leafs’ ECHL affiliate, the Newfoundland Growlers, which captured the league’s 2019 Kelly Cup in their inaugural season.
St. John’s was also home to the AHL’s Maple Leafs for 1991 to 2005 before the team relocated to Toronto as the Marlies.
Excitement over the Leafs’ return was palpable Tuesday afternoon, with a sea of blue and white jerseys flooding in to the city’s downtown.
Fans also came out in droves this past weekend for the team’s training camp in Paradise, N.L., about 20 minutes west of the provincial capital.
Newly retired sports broadcaster Bob Cole, a St. John’s native, was in the crowd and received a round of applause.
Babcock complimented Newfoundland residents as "beyond nice and supportive" over the few days.
"It’s a pretty good place to have a training camp and the people were spectacular, to say the least," he said. "They love the Leafs, it’s been great."
It was also a homecoming for Smith, who played for the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the 1990s and early 2000s.