TORONTO — Nick Ritchie scored his first two goals for Toronto as the Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-2 in pre-season action Tuesday.
Brennan Menell and Brett Seney, with a goal and an each assist, Ilya Mikheyev and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev provided the rest of the offence for Toronto. Mitch Marner and John Tavares both added two assists.
Petr Mrazek made 20 saves for the Leafs at Scotiabank Arena, which remains at 50 per cent capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Joel Armia, with a goal and an assist, and Alex Belzile replied for Montreal. Claimed off waivers Saturday from the Florida Panthers, Sam Montembeault made 38 stops in his Canadiens debut.
The Leafs, who improved to 4-1-0 in exhibition play, conclude their pre-season calendar Saturday at home against the Ottawa Senators. The Canadiens (2-3-0), meanwhile, wrap things up Thursday at the Bell Centre versus Ottawa.
Toronto and Montreal open the regular season Oct. 13 back at Scotiabank Arena.
The Canadiens got on the board at 2:56 of the Tuesday’s first period when Armia tipped Ben Chiarot’s shot off Leafs defenceman Mac Hollowell and past Mrazek.
A native of Becancour, Que., looking to win the job as Jake Allen’s backup to begin the season should starter Carey Price (knee surgery) remain sidelined, Montembeault was solid early before being left hung out to dry by his teammates when Marner found Ritchie alone in front at 8:18 to make it 1-1.
Ritchie , a product of Orangeville, Ont., who signed with Toronto in free agency this summer, then scored his second of the night on a power play 2:22 later when he took a pass from Nikita Gusev and beat Montembeault after Tavares hit the post moments earlier.
Montreal evened things with 3:28 remaining in the period on a man advantage of its own on Belzile’s shot through traffic, but Mikheyev restored Toronto’s lead 1:56 after that when he fired through another screen on the Leafs’ 19th shot of the period.
Menell scored to make it 4-2 on another Leafs man advantage from the slot at 11:09 of the second off a Tavares pass.
The Canadiens didn’t register a shot in the period until there were less than eight minutes left in the period, but Mrazek, who played a full 60 minutes for the first time in the pre-season, then had to be sharp on a couple of chances before Der-Arguchintsev scored with 3:08 remaining on the clock.
Seney made it 6-2 at 4:37 of the third after coming out of the penalty box, blowing past Belzile, and roofing a backhand on Montembeault.
Montreal, which trailed Toronto 3-1 in the first round of last spring’s playoffs before winning three straight to stun its Original Six rival in seven games, dressed 11 projected regulars Tuesday.
The Leafs, meanwhile, had eight members of their opening night roster dressed. Among those missing was star centre Auston Matthews, who has targeted the Oct. 13 curtain-raiser for his return as he continues to recuperate from off-season wrist surgery.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2021.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press