A new line combination of Jonathan Drouin, Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson quickly gelled for the Montreal Canadiens.
Anderson score twice, Dvorak collected his first goal for Montreal and assisted on three others, and Drouin picked up a pair of assists in a 5-2 pre-season win Monday over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Drouin feels the strength of their new partnership is how their differences complement each other.
“Josh is that horse on our line that stretches the play and uses his big body around the net and puts it in,” Drouin explained.
“I’m more of a passer and feel-it-out playmaker. Christian is just a two-way forward where he knows where to go, the right areas, always in the right spots.
“After the first and second (periods), I knew where he was gonna be in the third. It’s very cool to have that after a couple of periods to already know how he’s gonna play and where he’s gonna be.”
WATCH | Christian Dvorak scores his 1st goal as a Canadien:
Michael Pezzetta also scored twice for the Habs, including an empty-net goal.
The Canadiens acquired Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes earlier this month in exchange for two picks, including a first-round selection, in next year’s draft.
Even after one pre-season game, Drouin feels their new line combo shows a lot of promise. They’ll need to convince head coach Dominique Ducharme their trio deserves to stay intact.
“The coach will decide who we’ll play with and what the lines will be,” Drouin said. “But I think we like playing together since the start of camp and if we want to keep it like that, it’s up to us to force Dominque’s hand and keep this line the way it is. We had a good first game so we need to keep it up.”
Ducharme thought the line made a good first impression in its first outing.
“They had good moments in the offensive zone,” Ducharme said. “When we were in the defensive zone or when we would lose the puck, they were good enough to work with our defencemen to be on top of the opposition.”
Jake Allen stopped all 15 shots he faced in Montreal’s net before giving way to Kevin Poulin, who turned away 20 of 22.
David Kampf with a short-handed goal and Ondrej Kase scored for Toronto. Toronto’s Jack Campbell allowed three goals on 12 shots over half a game.
Reliever Petr Mrazek turned away seven of eight shots. Mrazek denied Anderson a hat trick with a glove save late in the third period.
Guhle makes his debut
Defenceman Kaiden Guhle, the teenager from Sherwood Park, Alta., led the Habs in ice time with 23 minutes 44 seconds in his debut.
“Obviously there’s a little bit of nerves, but this is where you want to be,” Guhle said. “There were a bit of nerves but I was more excited than anything. I was waiting for this for about a year now, ever since I got drafted. More excited than nerves.”
Playing alongside Montreal newcomer David Savard, Guhle made an impact blocking a shot in the second period and finishing a penalty-kill shift with a body check.
“He’s physical. You can tell that he’s not scared to sacrifice himself and block a shot,” Ducharme said. “Defensively there were a lot of good things. Offensively, he was efficient with his first passes so it’s a good game from him.”
Montreal exploited the Maple Leafs’ lack of discipline over the first 16 minutes of the game. Toronto took four minors during that span. Anderson and Dvorak each scored power-play goals.
Pezzetta scored even-strength to make it 3-0 near the midway point of the second.
Poulin, who had just replaced Allen, turned the puck over to Toronto’s Kampf for an easy short-handed goal at 11:15.
Anderson produced a second power-play goal in the period.
Kase cut the deficit to two on a feed from Morgan Reilly just before the intermission, but Toronto didn’t score again in the game.
Canucks down Flames 4-2 in pre-season action
J.T. Miller buried the game-winning goal Monday as the Vancouver Canucks topped the Calgary Flames 4-2 in pre-season action in Abbotsford, B.C.
Conor Garland, Chase Wouters and Tanner Pearson also scored for the home side, while Oliver Ekman-Larsson registered a pair of assists.
Calgary’s goals came from Dillon Dube and Connor Mackey.
Michael DiPietro — who spent much of last season on the Canucks’ taxi squad — was solid in net for Vancouver with 25 saves.
Adam Werner stopped 13-of-16 shots for the Flames before being replaced midway through the second period. Daniel Vladar had 12 saves in relief.
Flames attempt late comeback
The Canucks came into Monday’s matchup after opening the pre-season with a 5-3 loss to the Seattle Kraken in Spokane, Wash., on Sunday. The Edmonton Oilers blanked the Flames 4-0 in Calgary the same night.
Vancouver jumped out to a three-goal lead Monday but the Flames battled back with two strikes of their own in the second frame.
Pearson gave the Canucks some insurance 13:31 into the third period, picking up a drop pass from Ekman-Larsson and riffling it in past Vladar to make it 4-2.
The Flames pulled the goalie in a bid to make a late comeback but couldn’t finish with the extra attacker.
Mackey cut Calgary’s deficit to 3-2 with less than a minute to go in the second period, sneaking a shot past Di Pietro from the blue line.
The Flames’ first tally of the night came on a two-man advantage earlier in the frame.
Power-play goals propel Vancouver
Canucks captain Bo Horvat was sent to the box for cross checking at 10:59 and his teammates steadily worked to kill off the penalty until defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was sanctioned for the same offence in front of the net. Boos emanated from the crowd as the Flames were given 23 seconds of five-on-three hockey.
Dube scored 11 seconds in with a long bomb through DiPietro’s legs.
The Flames were 1-for-3 on the power play Monday, while the Canucks went 2-for-3 with the man advantage.
A pair of power-play goals helped Vancouver to a 3-0 lead after the first period.
Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane was called for cross-checking at the Canuck’s bench 15:18 into the opening frame and the home team wasted little time in capitalizing.
A scramble in front of the Flames’ net saw Horvat blast a shot at Werner and the rebound pop out to Miller, who fired it back in over the past the netminder at 15:34.
Three minutes earlier, Vancouver’s Jonah Gadjovich streaked deep into Calgary territory, out waited a sprawled out Juuso Valimaki, then dished the puck to Wouters from the goal line. The 21-year-old forward popped a shot in from the low slot to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.
Ekman-Larsson gets 2 points
A pair of new additions teamed up for Vancouver’s first strike of the night after Flames centre Glenn Gawdin was called for high-sticking 1:41 into the game.
Stationed at the top of the slot, Garland sent a shot screaming through heavy traffic and found the back of the net to open the scoring at 2:28.
Ekman-Larsson was credited with an assist on the play.
Arizona dealt the duo to Vancouver in July in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL entry draft. The Coyotes also received veteran forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel in the deal, as well as the Canucks’ second-round pick in 2022 and its seventh-round pick in 2023.
The Flames are set to host the Seattle Kraken Wednesday. The Canucks get a brief reprieve before heading to Alberta for a rematch with Calgary on Friday.