TORONTO - The Canadiens suffered their second straight loss on Thursday night, falling 5-2 to the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
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Interim head coach Dominique Ducharme welcomed left-winger Tomas Tatar back into the lineup after a five-game absence with a lower-body injury.
The 30-year-old Slovak suited up for his first game since April 26, skating with Phillip Danault and Cole Caufield.
Tatar replaced veteran Michael Frolik versus Toronto.
For his part, 21-year-old goaltender Cayden Primeau made his third start of the season for the Canadiens.
It was his first career appearance against the Maple Leafs.
Sheldon Keefe's squad struck first, lighting the lamp just 16 seconds into the opening frame.
Left-winger Alex Galchenyuk corralled a loose puck in the slot and beat Primeau with a backhander for his fifth goal of the season.
Forwards William Nylander and John Tavares assisted on Galchenyuk's tally.
Tavares picked up his second point of the night 3:08 later when he scored his 18th goal of the year, beating Primeau on a rebound off a shot by defenseman Jake Muzzin.
That gave the Maple Leafs a commanding 2-0 lead.
Keefe's contingent wasn't done yet, though.
Left-winger Pierre Engvall made it 3-0 for the home side at the 10:38 mark of the stanza with a goal that Primeau will definitely want back.
Centreman Jason Spezza and defenseman T.J. Brodie assisted on Engvall's fifth snipe of the campaign.
Right-winger Mitch Marner gave the Maple Leafs a 4-0 lead at the 17:23 mark of the period, capping a solid solo effort with his 19th goal of the season.
Left-winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Rasmus Sandin assisted on Marner's tally.
That's the way things stood after 20 minutes.
Primeau surrendered four goals on 15 shots in the frame, while the Canadiens fired nine shots on Toronto starter Jack Campbell.
Given the scoreline, Primeau was replaced by Jake Allen to start the second period.
The Canadiens also confirmed that Danault wouldn't return after playing just 3:26 in the first.
Caufield cut into the Maple Leafs' lead when he converted a perfect feed from right-winger Corey Perry at the 13:30 mark of the frame.
It was his third goal of the season and his third tally in the last four games.
It was also the first even-strength goal of the 20-year-old American's young career at 5-on-5.
Veteran Eric Staal was credited with an assist on the play as well.
The Canadiens trailed 4-1 after 40 minutes and were outshot 25-14 at the break.
Left-winger Artturi Lehkonen cut the Maple Leafs' lead to 4-2 when he scored just 3:04 into the third period.
The 25-year-old Finn banged in a rebound off a shot by right-winger Tyler Toffoli for his sixth goal of the season.
Toffoli extended his point streak to five games on the play.
Defenseman Jeff Petry also assisted on Lehkonen's goal.
Centreman Auston Matthews gave the Maple Leafs a 5-2 lead with his League-leading 40th goal of the year.
Marner and Muzzin assisted on Matthews' snipe with 4:19 left in regulation.
That's the way things finished up.
Allen made 19 saves in relief of Primeau.
The Canadiens will close out their three-game road trip with a rematch against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.