John Tavares talked after Tuesday’s morning skate about how he always gets butterflies before a game, no matter the time of year or the venue.
Those jitters were probably gone fairly early into the star centre’s pre-season debut with his new team.
Tavares buried his first two goals with the Maple Leafs and added an assist as Toronto defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 in the opener of the NHL exhibition schedule for both clubs.
Mitch Marner chipped in with a goal and two assists for the Leafs, while Andreas Borgman also scored. Ryan Dzingel replied for the Senators, who held a 35-30 edge in shots.
The game was played at the intimate Lucan Community Memorial Centre as part of the Kraft Hockeyville event in this town of 4,700 — a community some 25 kilometres outside of London, Ont., in the southwest corner of the province.
The Senators grabbed a 1-0 lead 21 seconds into Tuesday when Dzingel took a pass from Matt Duchene from behind the net after a Nazem Kadri turnover to beat Leafs goalie Curtis McElhinney upstairs, but Marner fed the puck down low on the power play at 5:12 to Tavares, who calmly beat Mike Condon past the blocker.