John Tavares scores twice in preseason Maple Leafs debut
Tavares had two goals and an assist in his first game in a Maple Leafs sweater
In his Leafs debut, Tavares scored twice as Toronto beat the Ottawa Senators, 4-1, in their first preseason game on Tuesday night. Again, it's only the preseason -- meaning these goals don't officially count toward anything -- but it's still a promising debut for the Maple Leafs' prized free-agent acquisition.
Tavares' first goal came just over five minutes into the first period with the Leafs on the power play. Somehow, all four Ottawa penalty killers left Tavares unmarked down low, allowing him to receive a pass with plenty of space to work with. Not exactly an ideal defensive strategy when going up against a guy who scored 37 goals last year. Tavares made them pay by sniping the puck past Ottawa goalie Mike Condon.
The second goal was a little less pretty but a lot more gritty, as Tavares managed to box out a defender down low before putting home a rebound on the doorstep. They count any way you can get them, even in preseason.
He went on to add an assist on a Mitch Marner goal later in the third period for his third and final point of the night. That's certainly not a bad debut for the $11 million-a-year man.
Tavares, 27, brought the biggest splash of free agency this summer when he signed with the Leafs -- his childhood hometown team -- on a seven-year, $77 million deal. He had spent each of his previous nine NHL seasons with the New York Islanders, who drafted him first overall in 2009.
Once more, it's only preseason, so let's not get too excited and give the guy a Hart Trophy and Conn Smythe just yet. But the Maple Leafs, their fans and Tavares have to be pretty thrilled that he was able to have such a large impact in his first game wearing a Leafs jersey ... even if that game means nothing.
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