Auston Matthews Scores as Maple Leafs Down Canadiens

TORONTO — Auston Matthews scored and Frederik Andersen made 26 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in pre-season play Wednesday.

Trevor Moore, with a goal and an assist, and John Tavares also scored for Toronto. Mitch Marner added two assists.

Keith Kinkaid stopped 46 shots for Montreal.

Matthews’ First Game Since Charges Announced

Toronto took the ice just over 24 hours after news broke that Matthews is facing a charge of disorderly conduct and disruptive behaviour stemming from an alleged incident in his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz., back in May.

The 22-year-old centre made a brief statement to an unusually large contingent of reporters for a pre-season game at Wednesday’s the morning skate, but didn’t take any questions.

Matthews, who played with regular linemates William Nylander and Andreas Johnsson, scored on a third-period power play off a great feed from Marner.

Andersen Continues Stellar Preseason

Andersen, meanwhile, has allowed just one goal in seven periods of exhibition action.

The Leafs dressed what should largely amount to their NHL lineup — minus injured forward Zach Hyman (knee) and defenceman Travis Dermott (shoulder) — when they open the regular season Oct. 2 at home against the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto Maple Leafs' Frederik Andersen
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Frederik Andersen (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Slocum)

The Canadiens, meanwhile, had about half of what’s expected to be their roster when they kick things off Oct. 3 in Carolina against the Hurricanes. Starting goalie Carey Price and top-line forward Max Domi were among the players left at home Wednesday.

Montreal and Toronto will meet for real Oct. 5 back at Scotiabank Arena on the first Saturday night of the 2019-20 schedule.

The Leafs, who saw Jake Muzzin and Jason Spezza hit each post behind Kinkaid in quick succession less than three minutes in, pushed ahead at 7:57 of Wednesday’s first period. Moore slid his second of the pre-season and second in as many games past Kinkaid after the Montreal netminder was contacted by Alexander Kerfoot, who was battling with defenceman Mike Reilly in front.

Canadiens head coach Claude Julien might have challenged the play for goalie interference, but video review wasn’t available at Scotiabank Arena for the game.

Andersen made a good stop on Brendan Gallagher from in tight on a Montreal power play later in the period before the Leafs went up 2-0 with 3:41 left.

Playing his first game at home since signing a six-year deal worth more than US$65.3 million to end his contract impasse with the Leafs at the start of camp, Marner wheeled with the puck down low before it fell to Tavares, who scored his second of the exhibition schedule on a bank shot from below the goal line.

Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Andersen stopped Phillip Daneault on a short-handed 2-on-1 rush in the second period as the Canadiens started to find their groove. The Toronto netminder then turned aside consecutive Shea Weber blasts on a Montreal power play.

The Canadiens appeared to get within one with 6:41 left in the second, but Charles Hudon’s effort was immediately waved off because the puck was kicked in.

Kinkaid did a good job to keep his team within two eight minutes into the third when he outwaited Marner in close, but could do nothing on the winger’s slick feed to Matthews for his fourth of the pre-season on a power play at 8:55 that made it 3-0.

Marner then hit the post with just over a minute to go on a shot that stayed out.

Toronto defeated Montreal on Monday 3-0 at the Bell Centre with a mostly American Hockey League roster in front of presumptive backup Michael Hutchinson, who finished the night with a 38-save shutout.

The Leafs have games against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday and Saturday to wrap up their pre-season schedule. The Canadiens’ exhibition finale goes Saturday in Montreal against Ottawa.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2019.


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press