Sunday, October 17

In the Habs room: Montreal rues missed opportunities in loss to Leafs

“When you have a 5 against 3 in the third period, when you are losing by a goal, you have to take advantage,” says coach Dominique Ducharme.

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TORONTO – Special teams made a difference when the Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 2-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night in the first game of the season for both clubs.


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The Leafs got a power play goal from Pierre Engvall, while the Canadiens were 0-for-4 on their power plays and were limited to one shot with a 5-on-3 lead for 1:44.

“(The Leafs) put a lot of pressure on us, but I didn’t like our pace,” coach Dominique Ducharme said. “Our rhythm, our intensity. I think that’s the difference tonight. When you have a 5 against 3 in the third period, when you are behind a goal, you must take advantage. “

Ducharme found things he liked about his team’s game.

“I think 5v5 and the way we play defense,” Ducharme said. “I really liked our start before we received the two penalties in the first period and that slowed us down.”

The start included a goal from Jonathan Drouin, who returns after taking a break to deal with anxiety. He got a pass from Josh Anderson on a strange run and made no mistakes.


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“It’s a great goal,” Drouin said. “It’s good to start the season this way. I would have liked the two points, but personally, I am happy to have scored in the first game. “

While Drouin would like to put his troubles behind him, he offered insight into his physical and mental state.

“I feel 100 times better,” he said. “I am calm and I am more focused during the games. I don’t want to go into details, but it’s a completely different experience than in recent years when I go to the arena. “

The line of Drouin, Anderson and newcomer Christian Dvorak was Montreal’s top line.

Dvorak’s stats were impressive. He had three shots on goal, three hits and three blocked shots. He was also the only Montreal center to win more than 50 percent of his matches, winning 15 of 28 for a 54 percent success rate.


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Goalie Jake Allen, who will take most of the load until Carey Price emerges from the NHL / NHLPA player assistance program, had a good start. It took a perfect shot from William Nylander to break a 1-1 tie.

The good news from the top line is that Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield each had four shots on target and linemate Tyler Toffoli added three. The not-so-good news is that they didn’t score and Suzuki struggled in the matchups, winning just seven of 17.

He was not alone.

Jake Evans, who was above 50 percent last season and in the playoffs, won three of 12 with a 25 percent success rate.

And fourth-row center Cédric Paquette, who missed most of training camp, lost all six of his meetings, which means we may see newcomer Adam Brooks sooner rather than later.


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The Canadiens cut their roster to 22 players, one below the NHL limit, early Wednesday when they assigned Ryan Poehling to the Laval Rocket.

Poehling was given every chance to clinch a roster spot, appearing in five of six preseason games, but he came up short, prompting general manager Marc Bergevin to pull Brooks off the Maple Leafs waivers.

“I think he would have liked to do more himself,” Ducharme said of Poehling. “Things change very fast in hockey. A good start for him (in Laval), and you never know. “

Brooks practiced with his new team for the first time Wednesday and Ducharme said he will integrate the newcomer into the Canadiens system slowly. Defender Sami Niku, who is on injured reserve to start the season, also skated with the team.

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