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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Canadiens - 09/25/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-1 pre-season victory over the Montreal Canadiens Monday at Ricoh Coliseum:

by Adam Proteau /

Matthews' long wrist shot tally

MTL@TOR: Matthews opens scoring with wicked wrister

Auston Matthews uses the defender as a screen and wires a wrist shot over the shoulder of Al Montoya to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead

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1. Matthews back in familiar territory, scoring first to put Leafs ahead early. Centre Auston Matthews became well-known for a number of reasons in his rookie season with the Leafs last year, and one of those reasons was for his penchant at scoring the first goal of the game. That was the case again Monday, when he took a pass from winger Leo Komarov just outside Toronto's blueline, quickly carried the puck into Montreal's zone, and snapped a shot just inside the Canadiens' blueline that beat goalie Al Montoya at the 47-second mark and put the Leafs ahead 1-0.

The Buds entered the night on a two-game win streak, and with a lineup that's fairly close to the one that will start the regular season in Winnipeg Oct. 4, they started Monday's game with focus and smart play. And to help them settle in, Matthews gave them some breathing room early on. He's good at that.

Video: MTL@TOR: Matthews tips home his second of the period

2. Matthews' nose for the net leads to his second goal of the night and a two-goal Toronto lead. The Leafs' lead got a boost less than five minutes after Matthews scored - and once again, Matthews was the one who put the puck in the net. The youngster took advantage of a Montreal turnover just inside their blueline, got the puck on Montoya on his backhand, and circled around behind Montoya to the other side of the net, where he poked in a rebound at 4:56 to make it 2-0 for the home team.

As we've said in this space numerous times, Matthews' skills with the puck are tremendous, but it's what he does away from it - including his doggedness on defense and his instincts for being where the puck eventually is going to be - that are equally impressive. That's quite something for a competitor who just turned 20 last week.

Video: MTL@TOR: Marleau fights off defender, pots rebound

3. Marleau extends Buds' advantage with hard-fought marker in close. Toronto finished the first frame up by two goals, and their lead was increased early in the second period when veteran winger Patrick Marleau battled a pair of Habs defenders near the net to the left of Montoya and knocked a loose puck into Montreal's net for his second marker of the pre-season.

Marleau has looked increasingly comfortable in every game since signing with the Buds as an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his goal Monday was an indication of how many differet ways he can score goals. His first one as a Leaf - against Ottawa last week - was a shot from the outside, while this one came in close. You don't become a multi-time 30-goal-scorer by only netting them one way, and Marleau clearly is capable of hurting the opposition from all parts of the offensive zone.

4. Canadiens get one back on power play to cut Leafs' lead to two goals entering third. Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen has been sharp in the pre-season, and his play in the first two periods was no different. Montreal outshot the Leafs 9-5 through the first 20 minutes, yet Andersen held the Habs off the scoreboard through that span and up until 11:37 of the second period, when the visitors got a power play goal from defenseman Jeff Petry to cut the lead to 3-1. But Andersen - who played his first full game of the pre-season Monday - wasn't shaken by Petry's goal and posted a solid third period to lock up the win.

Andersen had to deal with an injury early last fall that hampered his first training camp as a Leaf, but this pre-season he's been strong and dependable right from the get-go, and looks primed to build on the terrific regular season he had in 2016-17.

Video: MTL@TOR: Matthews completes hat trick on breakaway

5. Matthews scores on breakaway for hat trick, Nylander adds his third of pre-season as Leafs pile up goals and nail down third straight win. The Canadiens didn't have star netminder Carey Price between the pipes, nor did they have their full complement of NHLers on the bench for this game. But as the third period went on, the Leafs used their familiarity and experience to their benefit - and Matthews broke through a pair of Habs defenders to create a breakaway that he'd score on at 3:46 of the frame for his third of the night and a 4-1 Toronto lead.

Just over three minutes later, the Leafs were on a power play when winger William Nylander netted his third of the pre-season at 6:32 to put the Buds up 5-1 and effectively put the game out of reach for the visitors. The Canadiens will have a chance for revenge when the two clubs square off again Wednesday night in Montreal - in a game that likely will see Price in net to make life harder on Toronto's forwards - but as it stands now, the Leafs are riding a high, with three consecutive wins under their belts and a lineup that's gelling more and more with every shift.

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