In the preseason opener, Montreal went 32 minutes and 32 seconds without a shot on goal.

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The first exhibition game of the year is often a work in progress and the Canadiens’ 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday showed there is a lot of work to be done.

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There are nights when goals are hard to come by, nights when teams run into a hot goalie, but that wasn’t the case in this game and Leafs goalkeeper Michael Hutchinson’s biggest challenge was staying awake. .

Someone forgot to tell the Canadiens they can’t score if they don’t shoot the puck. Mathieu Perreault fired Montreal’s fifth shot on goal at 6:06 in the first period and Montreal didn’t get another shot until Brett Kulak tested Hutchinson with 1:22 remaining in the second period. That’s 32 minutes and 32 seconds without a shot on goal.

Cole Caufield, who is expected to provide some offense, had two chances in the second period. He went solo on a breakaway and shot wide, and did it again with the Canadiens enjoying a 3v0 break.

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While Montreal won 54 percent of the matchups, it lost draws at crucial moments. The Canadiens had two power plays early in the game, but couldn’t get a shot on goal. Each time, they started off on the left foot when Nick Suzuki lost head-to-head to start the lead. One of Suzuki’s goals this season is to improve in fighting and he won nine of 16, while the hopeful Ryan Poehling won nine of 14.

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Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the second period when John Tavares scored 10 seconds after Cédric Paquette was sent off for cutting. The Leafs took possession of the puck when Tavares won a matchup, but you can’t read much about that because he beat Jean-Christophe Beaudin, who doesn’t think he’ll be around in the regular season.

Cayden Primeau and Michael McNiven, who are battling for the number one spot at Laval, divided up the goalkeeping duties and McNiven had the best performance. Primeau allowed three goals on 21 shots, conceding goals to Tavares, William Nylander and rookie Michael Bunting. McNiven stopped 10 of 11 shots. He stopped Joshua Ho-Sang and Ilya Mikheyev on a breakaway and had two big saves over Jake Muzzin, but was burned when he came out into the face-to-face circle to play a puck and failed to clear Kurtis Gabriel.

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Tyler Toffoli ended Hutchinson’s shutout when he scored with 1:56 left.

“It was not a good game, we can play better,” said Alexander Romanov, who recorded 9:34 pm alongside Jeff Petry as the number one defensive pair. They were solid and Romanov had three hits and assisted Toffoli’s goal.

Romanov hopes to play a bigger role after being a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs and said he’s willing to play anywhere.

“I don’t care which side I play on,” he said. “I can play left or right, striker or goalkeeper. I’m just trying to help my team. “

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The Canadiens are at the Bell Center on Sunday for their annual game between red and white teams, while the Maple Leafs and Canadiens will do so again on Monday. (7 pm, TSN2, TSN4, RDS, TSN-690 Radio, 98.5 FM) with a different cast of characters.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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