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Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs game recap: Keith Kinkaid somehow shines in 3-0 loss

The Habs were outmatched by the Leafs’ big guns, but Keith Kinkaid kept it reasonable.

NHL: SEP 25 Preseason - Canadiens at Maple Leafs Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Enfin, the regular season is almost upon us. Last night, the Montreal Canadiens took to the ice in Toronto for their second-to-last preseason game of the year. Facing what was essentially the expected Maple Leafs opening-night roster,

While the Habs certainly didn’t ice their expected roster, it was much closer to an NHL team than the one Toronto put out in the previous game. That did not matter early, as the Leafs’ stronger offering struck first. Rasmus Sandin missed on a point shot, but Trevor Moore found the rebound amidst some chaos in front of the net to make it 1-0.

Keith Kinkaid fared admirably in the first period, making a number of good saves, but there is only so much a goaltender can do. Near the end of the period, after about a solid two minutes of sustained Pressure, John Tavares shoved the puck past his outstretched pad on about his fifth whack. 2-0 Leafs.

Given that the majority of the first was spent with the puck in the Habs’ zone, Kinkaid surely deserved a stick tap for his work despite the deficit.

The second period was much of the same. However, towards the 15-minute mark, Charles Hudon looked to get a goal in tight against Frederik Andersen. Unfortunately, the referee felt it was a distinct kicking motion, and the goal was waived off without any review.

Thanks to Kinkaid, there was little else to speak of until the midway point of the third period. Matthew Peca went to the box on an ill-advised delay of game penalty, and Auston Matthews ripped a one-timer passed Kinkaid to make it 3-0.

And that was all she wrote. The Habs could get absolutely nothing going for them offensively, and if not for their netminder, this one could have been a laugher. Toronto totaled 52 shots on goal, more than double the 25 their opponents sent towards Andersen.

It’s certainly not a panic-inducing performance — the Leafs brought most of their expected roster, whereas Montreal iced a lot of AHL-bound players. But a second shutout loss is unlikely to sit well with a fan base that was enjoying a rather solid preseason up until these Toronto games.

Notes

  • I’ll say again, Keith Kinkaid was very good. Carey Price hasn’t had the best relief the last few years, but Kinkaid’s two preseason outings suggest that he’ll be getting some quality support this year. None of the goals could be considered his fault, and of his 49 saves, he made a few spectacular ones. For the most part, he was simply calm, well positioned, and made life hard for a Leafs team that didn’t encounter much resistance outside of his own.
  • Nick Suzuki and Jordan Weal also managed to stand out somewhat. It seems a foregone conclusion at this point that Suzuki will make the opening night roster, and if Weal somehow wasn’t already a lock, he should be considered as such by now. Nobody looked great on the night, but I felt they both made some good plays.
  • Poor Charles Hudon. RDS showed a replay late in the game that conclusively showed the puck going off his stick after hitting his skate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem there would be a place for him on the team even if the refs had gotten the call right and given him that one.
  • Jonathan Drouin wasn’t good or bad — the problem is that he was completely invisible. I was the only person to rank him first in our top-25-under-25 series, and I’m a big proponent of his, but he really hasn’t looked good in his tune-up games. Hopefully he has another gear coming, because his team needs him to be better.

Hopefully there is some better hockey coming for Montreal. The team will return home for one last preseason game against the Senators on Saturday, and after that, the games start to count.