The Canadian Press
MONTREAL–If the pre-season is any indication, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ power play could wreak havoc this season.
Toronto’s star-studded first power-play unit scored two goals as the Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 last night to improve to 5-1-0 in pre-season play.
John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, and Mitch Marner all played on the first wave of Toronto’s man advantage.
“It obviously got us back in the game, a couple of big goals,” noted Tavares. “We had some good movement, some good opportunities.
“Obviously, we have a lot of skill out there,” he added. “It’s just making sure everyone is doing their job and we’re executing at a high level.
“I don’t think we go in trying to put fear,” Tavares said. “We go out to focus on what we have to do and get the results we need.
“If that puts pressure on other teams, puts them on their heels, well, that works better for us.”
Down 1-0 in the first period, Toronto’s dangerous power play went to work with Paul Byron in the box for tripping.
After good puck circulation, Matthews found an open Kadri, who kicked the puck from his skate to his stick before beating a screened Carey Price for the top-shelf equalizer at 18:11.
The Leafs scored again with the man advantage to start the second period.
This time with Tomas Tatar serving a two-minute high-sticking penalty, Matthews was left alone to the right of Price and beat the Canadiens’ goalie with a quick release at 1:14.
Marner got an assist on both power-play goals. He ended the night with a goal and three helpers.
The Leafs finished 2-for-6 with the man advantage.
“I think they’re going to burn a lot of teams,” Claude Julien said of Toronto’s first unit. “But at the same time, that doesn’t excuse our showing tonight on their power play.
“There are certain things we saw tonight that we definitely have to correct,” he stressed.
Toronto’s penalty kill also was firing on all cylinders against the Canadiens.
With the game tied 2-2, the Leafs scored short-handed goals 20 seconds apart to start the third period.
Marner got the first 16 seconds into the period after bad communication between Price and Jeff Petry led to a loose puck in front of the net–an easy tap-in for Marner.
Kasperi Kapanen added another for the visitors 20 seconds later on a 2-on-1 break with Par Lindholm.
Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock liked what he saw from his special teams.
“Mitch on the penalty kill was dynamic,” Babcock said. “[And] I liked a lot of the things I saw from the new players, which is positive.
“Power play, obviously especially when we’re doing it right, is really good,” he added.
“We got skill, now we have to learn how to play right.”
In other pre-season action, Minnesota edged Winnipeg 4-3, the N.Y. Islanders nipped the N.Y. Rangers 4-3 (OT), Detroit shaded Boston 3-2 (OT), Pittsburgh beat Buffalo 5-1, Dallas downed Colorado 3-1, and Anaheim topped L.A. 7-4.