In the return match of the teams’ home-and-home series to kick off the new NHL season, the Leafs embarrassed the Senators before a sellout crowd of 19,237 at Scotiabank Place.
They scored early and often on Ottawa goaltender Martin Gerber, who struggled in his home debut and was pulled in favour of Ray Emery after allowing five goals on 24 shots through the first two periods.
At the other end, Raycroft responded from the opening-night defeat with a solid performance to earn his first shutout in a Maple Leafs uniform and the fourth of his career.
It was the free-agent signing’s first shutout since Jan. 31, 2004 while with the Boston Bruins.
The victory was the 269th of Paul Maurice’s coaching career, but his first with the Leafs after he took over from Pat Quinn on May 12.
It came as relief for Toronto (1-1-0) after the Leafs dropped the
season opener to the Senators 4-1 a night earlier at the Air Canada
Toronto needed a Mats Sundin penalty shot to manage its only goal in Wednesday’s opener. On Thursday, the Leafs didn’t leave any questions about where their offence would come from this year.
Their special teams made a big contribution, producing one goal while shorthanded and two more on the power play.
Alexei Ponikarovsky and Bates Battaglia had the other Leafs goals. Kyle Wellwood had four assists and Sundin added two.
Emery stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced the rest of the way for Ottawa (1-1-0).
Senators off-season acquistion Tom Preissing picked up a minor knee injury during Wednesday’s opener and Ottawa recalled Tomas Malec to take his place on defence.
Meanwhile, Pavel Kubina made his regular-season debut on Toronto’s blue-line after sitting out the first game because of a suspension he received for cross-checking Detroit’s Jiri Hudler in the face in Sunday’s exhibition finale.
Raycroft had enjoyed a less-than-memorable start to his Leafs career on his opening night but Thursday the tables were turned on Gerber, whom the Senators signed to a US$11.1-million, three-year contract in the off-season as a replacement for No. 1 goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Gerber received a loud ovation during player introductions but, by the second period, was the subject of mock cheers from the crowd.
With the Senators on the power play midway through the first period, Kilger crossed the Ottawa blue-line and fired a low shot that slipped under the left pad of Gerber to make it 1-0.
The Leafs increased the lead little more than three minutes later when Tucker wired a shot over Gerber’s shoulder with Toronto enjoying the man advantage.
Gerber’s night got worse early in the second when he came out of his net to stop a Toronto shoot-in and left the puck for his defence to play. However, Leafs centre Alex Steen was the first player to the puck and he fed Kilger for an easy tap-in before Gerber settled back into his crease.
Tucker, with another power-play goal, and Ponikarovsky, on a re-direction that caught Gerber moving the wrong way, scored before the period was over to make it 5-0.
Battaglia, who spent last season in the minors, beat Emery in the third for his first NHL goal since Jan. 29, 2004.
Notes: The Senators fell to 7-4-3 all-time in home openers. . . . Rookie centre Alexei Kaigorodov was a healthy scratch for Ottawa for the second straight game. . . . Toronto managed to
equal its win total in the season series from a year ago, when the Leafs dropped seven of eight contests to the Senators. . . . The Sabres visit Scotiabank Place on Saturday. . . . Alexander Suglobov was scratched with Wade Belak moving back to forward to make room for the return of Kubina while defenceman Jay Harrison and goaltender Mikael Tellqvist also didn’t dress for Toronto. . . . The Leafs return home to play host to Montreal on Saturday.