It was bound to happen sooner or later. While the introduction of three-on-three overtime is designed to reduce the number of games that result in a shootout, it can’t eliminate the skills competition entirely.
And so it was that Ottawa and Toronto, who participated in the first NHL shootout back in 2005, also took part in the first one of the new overtime format. This time around, Mike Hoffman earned the deciding marker against James Reimer to hand Ottawa a 5-4 victory:
At one point this game seemed like a very unlikely candidate for the skills competition.
Toronto got into penalty trouble early in the second period and the Senators took full advantage of it with three straight power-play goals over the span of 4:10 minutes. Given that the Maple Leafs’ struggle to score in their first two games and the perception that they’re offensively anemic following the Phil Kessel trade, it would have been easy to assume that Ottawa’s 3-0 lead was sufficient.
While the Maple Leafs (0-2-1) are still searching for their first win of the Mike Babcock era, at least this can be seen as a step in the right direction.