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Five Takeaways - Leafs @ Canadiens - 10/29/16

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at Bell Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Scoreless first period a product of strong Leafs start against tough Habs squad. With a 7-0-1 record, the Canadiens entered Saturday's game as the NHL's best team and an unbeaten squad at home (4-0-0). But the Leafs weren't intimidated by Montreal or the always-emotional crowd at Bell Centre, outshooting the Habs 11-10 in the scoreless opening period and 21-16 through 40 minutes of play. 

Canadiens star goalie Carey Price had to be at his best to keep Toronto off the scoresheet in the early going, but the veteran has played well dating back to the World Cup of Hockey and he was in fine form again. Toronto didn't have a goal to show for it, but the pressure they applied on Montreal was a good sign - and if they can replicate that consistently, the goals will eventually come.

2. Galchenyuk nets game's first goal, but Kadri evens things up early in third on the power play. Montreal centre Alex Galchenyuk has enjoyed success playing on a line with first-year Hab Alex Radulov this season, and the youngster was set up perfectly by the veteran at 6:11 of the second period to register the game's first goal, Galchenyuk's third goal of the season and Radulov's fourth assist of the year. 

However, Toronto came out robustly to begin the third period - a period in which they'd fire 17 shots at Price - and centre Nazem Kadri evened the score at 4:18 with a power-play marker and his third goal of the year. The Leafs had four man-advantages Saturday, and converting on one of them helped the confidence of a power play unit that failed to generate offence in two opportunities against the Panthers Thursday.

 Video: TOR@MTL: Kadri redirects puck past Price for PPG

3. Nylander's assist on Kadri's goal another indication of his stellar run. Kadri's goal came when he deflected a perfect pass from forward William Nylander past Price, who was screened by winger Leo Komarov and had no chance on the play. The assist was Nylander's team-best sixth of the season, and its pinpoint brilliance was more evidence the 20-year-old is already finding a comfort level that makes him one of Toronto's most dangerous players.

Of course, Nylander's play on the defensive end matters more than a little to Toronto head coach Mike Babcock and team management, but after eight games this season, the Swede has four goals and 10 points - nearly as many as he did last season, when he amassed six goals and 13 points in his first 22 NHL games. It'll be a message we'll repeat here throughout the year, but the best is yet to come for Nylander, and the present is already impressive. 

4. Another strong outing from Andersen. Leafs goalie Frederick Andersen earned his second win of the year in Toronto's 3-2 win over Florida, and although he didn't get the 'W' Saturday, he put in another solid performance against Montreal, turning aside 29 of 31 Canadiens shots (including 14 of 15 in the third period). He was beaten for the game-winning goal on the power play by a slapshot from Habs star blueliner Shea Weber, and no goalie in the league could've stopped Weber's famously powerful shot.

Andersen bailed out his teammates a number of times after defensive lapses and gave the Leafs a chance to tie things up and send the game to overtime, which they nearly did on several occasions late in regulation time. He is rounding into peak form, and Toronto's goals-against numbers are dropping accordingly.

5. As expected, no shortage of emotion between Original Six rivals - and Leafs' late-game urgency was admirable. The world-renowned rivalry between the Leafs and Canadiens is almost always a spirited affair on the ice and in the stands, and Saturday's contest was no different. The two teams combined for 11 minor penalties among 10 different players, and Toronto continued to push and get pucks at Price until the final buzzer sounded, giving this game a playoff feel. 

The final result didn't go the Leafs' way, but the urgency with which they finished Saturday's tilt is something they need to carry into their next game, Sunday against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn. 

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