Canadiens looking for first win of season at Maple Leafs

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The Montreal Canadiens will be trying to win for the first time this season Saturday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are undefeated after two games.

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 4-1 road victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night after opening their season with a home win over the Ottawa Senators two nights earlier.

The Canadiens opened their season Thursday in Raleigh, N.C., with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien saw some positive things for his team after gaining one point in their season opener.

“I was impressed, honestly, with the pace of this game from both teams,” Julien told reporters. “It was a fast-paced game, it was hard-fought. There were battles along the walls and there were a lot of battles in front of the nets. So, no doubt I think both teams are trying to make a point here tonight. At the end of the day, you like the effort of your team and you’re disappointed that a point slipped away.”

The Canadiens fell behind 2-0 before grabbing a 3-2 lead against the Hurricanes.

“There were times where we had some (defensemen) who had a hard time tonight with making some good first passes,” Julien said after the game. “But at the end of the day, I think the game we played tonight was a good game. I liked our effort, I liked our pace. … There’s a lot of good things to take from tonight.”

Nick Suzuki, 20, playing in his first NHL game, was picked by Julien to shoot third in the shootout after Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin failed to score.

“He’s good at it, so why not?” Julien said. “We always seem surprised that a young player comes in and does those things. I think he’s proven that he’s very good at it. Just because he didn’t score tonight doesn’t mean he’s not a smart player.”

Defenseman Cale Fleury, 20, also making his NHL debut, overcame early nervousness and finished with four hits.

“(Fleury) made a couple of good rub-outs along the boards,” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said. “He’s not huge, but he’s not small and he plays physical. So I’m looking forward to (continuing to work) with him, anyway.”

Auston Matthews has scored three goals for the Maple Leafs, including a power-play marker on Friday. Mitch Marner had two goals and an assist against the Blue Jackets and Morgan Rielly had three assists.

“I thought our puck moving was good,” Marner said. “I thought in certain breakouts we didn’t rush it, we took our time, we stopped and came back as a group.”

The Maple Leafs have a busy schedule to open the season with four games in six nights. “You’re not a fan of that, but on the other hand, I’ll know a lot more in six days than I would if we played four (in 10 days),” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “You’re trying to build confidence. At the start of the year, everyone is close to the same.”

Frederik Andersen has played in goal for the first two games for the Maple Leafs and his key saves Friday prevented the final score from being closer. After the game, Babcock said that Michael Hutchinson will start Saturday.

Babcock moved into sole possession of eighth place among NHL coaches with 693 wins, passing Dick Irvin, who had 692.

–Field Level Media

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