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Canadiens edged by Leafs

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

Alex Kovalev was unable to beat Andrew Raycroft, who stopped 32-of-35 shots fired his way by the Canadiens.

MONTREAL (CP) - Playing the second of back-to-back games against their archrivals, the Canadiens were edged out 4-3 by the Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Aleksander Suglobov is making a strong bid to crack the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup.

The speedy Suglobov had a goal and two assists as the Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in NHL pre-season play on Saturday night.

The Russian right winger also scored in the Leafs' 5-1 victory over Montreal in Toronto on Friday night.

"There's still some development in his game, but good for him," coach Paul Maurice said of Suglobov, who was acquired from New Jersey for Ken Klee last March, but played only two NHL games for the Leafs.

Suglobov set up Matt Stajan's goal with 6:07 left in the third period that broke a 3-3 tie and gave Toronto (3-1) the win.

"We've been buzzing around the net the last few games," Stajan said of his first pre-season goal. "We worked hard, so it's nice to finally get a goal."

The Canadiens (0-4) have yet to win a game for new head coach Guy Carbonneau.

"I never thought we'd win all eight (pre-season games)," Carbonneau said. "I was disappointed in the effort in Toronto, but in this game, I though it was a lot better.

"We had some lapses, but it was better than it was and that's what we asked for."

The effort didn't sit well with winger Christopher Higgins.

"Some guys are taking shifts off, or parts of shifts, and the result is odd-man breaks against us," he said. "Our neutral zone play was awful. It was embarrassing.

"You've got to start doing it now because when the regular season starts, this is not going to fly. You'll find yourself in the press box."

A second effort led to the game winner, as Stajan got behind Sheldon Souray to take a pass from Suglobov and flip it past Cristobal Huet at the near side with 6:07 left to play.

Kyle Wellwood and Jeremy Williams also scored for Toronto.    Defenceman Mark Streit had a goal and two assists for Montreal while Saku Koivu and Michael Ryder also scored.

Andrew Raycroft went all the way in goal for Toronto as the Canadiens outshot the Leafs 35-30 before a full house of 21,273 at the Bell Centre.

Huet replaced starter Carey Price at 11:42 of the second period and let in three goals on 19 shots.

"It's better to play a full game at this time of the year," said Raycroft. "Not only for myself, but for the guy who replaces you halfway through the game.

"Look at Huet. He came in and a couple of odd ones went in right away."

Gunning for its first win of the pre-season, Montreal used many of its top veterans, while Toronto sat out vets like Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle.

Suglobov scored 2:54 into the game when he swiped at a puck at the side of the net and saw it go under the crossbar behind Carey Price. The goal stood up after video review.

Koivu tied it just as a power play ended 3:10 into the second frame when a puck ricocheted onto his stick for a shot into an open side.

Streit put Montreal ahead at 5:42 on a two-man advantage.

After Huet replaced Price in goal at 11:42, Toronto scored twice with the teams each a man short.

Wellwood was on his knees after being tripped by Huet when he backhanded the puck in an open side at 14:02 and Williams tipped one out of the air over the Montreal goalkeeper at 16:01.

Ryder tied it at 3-3 on a power play 1:00 into the third period when he tapped in Streit's rebound.

Koivu, Higgins and Ryder each had four shots to lead Montreal, but the Alex Kovalev/Sergei Samsonov duo struggled again. Suglobov and Alex Steen had four shots for Toronto.

Notes - Canadiens centre Steve Begin was given the team's Jean Beliveau award for service to the community before the game. ... Both teams next play Ottawa in Nova Scotia. The Leafs play the Senators Sunday night in Halifax and Montreal plays them Monday night in Truro, N.S. ... Ryder was without the visor he tried out at the start of camp.


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