WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Denis and Jeannette Marleau drove 10 hours from Aneroid, Saskatchewan, to watch son Patrick’s first game with the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was worth it.
Marleau scored twice and Toronto beat the Winnipeg Jets 7-2 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
The 38-year-old Marleau signed with Toronto as a free agent after 19 seasons with the San Jose Sharks. He has 510 career goals.
His first goal began with youngster Mitch Marner passing up to sophomore Auston Matthews, who passed it across to Marleau in the high slot. The veteran kicked the puck up to his skate and went in alone on Steve Mason, dekeing before scoring to make it 4-0.
“That was awesome,” Matthews said. “Unbelievable pickup by him and the move was even better. Pretty special play by him. I’m sure it feels good for him to get the ball rolling on that so we’re all happy for him.”
Marleau was energized by the youngsters.
“You can see how hungry they are out there, not only in games but in practice,” Marleau said about Matthews and Marner. “They’re striving to get better each and every day and you want to be part of that and you can feed off that for sure.”
Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and William Nylander scored in a three-minute span in the first period. Matthews and Marner also scored, and Frederik Andersen made 35 saves.
Mark Scheifele ended Andersen’s shutout bid midway through the third period, and Mathieu Perreault also scored for Winnipeg.
New Jets goalie Steve Mason was pulled after Marleau’s second goal 36 seconds into the third period, having allowed five goals on 20 shots. Connor Hellebuyck stopped nine of 11 shots in relief.
“Five was enough,” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said about pulling Mason. “He’s going to have a couple he’d like to have back, but there wasn’t anything you’re looking at saying, ‘My god, how did he miss that?’ “
Winnipeg was dominating the opening period, getting three early power plays and testing Andersen with at least eight shots with the man advantage, but Toronto opened the scoring on its only power play of the period.
With Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba in the penalty box for hooking, Kadri went in front of Mason and took a shot, got his own rebound and then jammed the puck into the net with 4:15 to go.
The Leafs made it 2-0 with 2:20 left when Tyler Bozak went up against Scheifele in a faceoff, got his stick on the loose puck and sent a backhand pass to Van Riemsdyk for his quick, low shot.
Nylander used Toronto’s 10th shot to make it 3-0 with 1:37 to go in the period.
Marleau scored his first of the night at 8:32 of the second, and added his second goal after Kadri went down the ice into the corner and fed a pass back to the newcomer 36 seconds into the third.
Marner took advantage of his team’s fourth power play to stretch the lead 6-0 at 8:07.
Scheifele broke the goose egg when he took Patrik Laine’s pass across the front of the net and beat Andersen to make it 6-1.
NOTES: Matthews had two assists for a three-point game. … The seven goals tied Toronto’s highest output from last season, a 7-1 home victory over the New York Islanders on Feb. 14.
Maple Leafs: Host New York Rangers on Saturday night.
Jets: At Calgary on Saturday night.
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