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MONTREAL – The Canadiens fell into the league’s top team on Saturday-evening and dropped a 5-3 decision for the Maple Leafs.

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Claude Julien’s players looked sharp for their first appearance at the Bell Center since February 11.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Nothing better than a Saturday game against our old rivals. Nothing better than a Saturday night game against our old rivals. # GoHabsGo | @RONAinc pic.twitter.com/0T2UP4wwbW

Come on Paul Byron, which approved waivers earlier in the week, was lined up for the fourth fight of the season between the two teams.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: The return back home. # GoHabsGo | @RONAinc pic.twitter.com/4KJVgFQb1r

Tomas Tatar was also in uniform after a healthy scratch in Toronto last Saturday night.

Carey pricemeanwhile made its 10th start of the year.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: ๐™ˆ๐™ง. ๐™Ž๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ช๐™ง๐™™๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™‰๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐Ÿ‘‡ # GoHabsGo | @RONAinc pic.twitter.com/hPTpeDRVVK

During the warm up of the match, young gun Nick Suzuki wore special gear to celebrate Black History Month.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: A closer look at @ nsuzuki_37’s custom Willie O’Ree skates in honor of Black History Month. # NHLBlackHistory pic.twitter.com/gLyQIfMyMv

There were no goals to report during a tough first period.

Both teams exchanged top scoring opportunities, but Price and Maple Leafs-starter Frederik Andersen were at the top of their respective games.

Price turned 13 shots and made several stops with highlights in the first 20 minutes, including this one on right winger William Nylander.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: ๐Ÿ”ต (it’s a blue stop sign) (it’s a blue stop sign) #GoHabsGo | @RONAinc pic.twitter.com/fQTEOgrdid

He followed that up with this miraculous desperation glove, except for right winger Ilya Mikheyev.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: CAREY. ๐Ÿคฏ # GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/5AZQvHXhc5

Andersen for his part made 10 stops to keep half time winless.

However, the Maple Leafs roared out of the gate in the middle frame, scoring two power play goals in the space of 15 seconds.

Centerman Auston Matthews started with a one-timer from Price on a perfect feed from Mitch Marner at 1:05 p.m. of the period.

Matthews’ League-leading 17th goal of the season came on a two-man advantage, and it extended his point streak to 16 consecutive games.

Tweet from @MapleLeafs: That Marner Matthews connection ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ # LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/To0acIWfLE

Fellow pivot Travis Boyd placed Sheldon Keefe’s team with a pair when he ended a nice passing game with a tap-in-count on Price.

Tweet from @MapleLeafs: Tic-Tac-Toe ๐Ÿšจ # LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/YBXB961KVC

But the Canadiens responded with two goals of their own 33 seconds apart to tie the score.

First, Jesperi Kotkaniemi defeated Andersen on a breakaway with a sweet wrist shot up at 3:24 from the frame.

It was the 20-year-old Finn’s second goal of the year and broke an eleven-game drought.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: a, c ‘tait ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต Nice mint shot. # GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/cpLBKtiBr5

Tatar and Joel Edmundson collected the assists.

Then Byron scored his first goal of the season with an excellent individual effort to sort things out.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Ti-Paul. Gros only. # GoHabsGo | @RONAinc pic.twitter.com/LYDO1E4SEn

Unfortunately, Marner put the Maple Leafs back up front with 7:31 up in the period.

He resolved Price at the end of a 2-on-1.

Tweet from @MapleLeafs: Magic Mitts ๐Ÿช„๐Ÿงค # LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/tELr6XdemH

Matthews struck again with his second goal of the evening and 18th of the year thanks to another power play goal at 3:05 pm from the stanza.

His signature wrist shot from the slot beat Price through traffic and gave Toronto a 4-2 lead.

Tweet from @MapleLeafs: Hot shot ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ # LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/Q1tGkcG7hU

That’s how things stood during the break, when Montreal beat their North Division rivals by a margin of 26-21.

Centerman Alexander Kerfoot gave Toronto a 5-2 lead with 6:24 left in the regulation, shielding an odd-man rush with an easy count on a pass from Jason Spezza.

Tweet from @MapleLeafs: Spezzial delivery for Alex Kerfoot ๐Ÿ“ฌ ๐Ÿšจ # LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/2oYJKntGdn

Tyler Toffoli cut the lead to 5-3 by scoring his team-leading 11th goal of the season for the Canadiens with 1:26 left before the final buzzer.

Alexander Romanov and Brendan Gallagher collected the assists.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Toffoli en marque un! Toffoli gets one back! #GoHabsGo | @RONAinc pic.twitter.com/X2RG3Bsq5z

Unfortunately, that was as close as the Habs would get.

Price made 22 saves in the loss, while Andersen stopped 30 shots to pick up his 11th win.

The Canadiens will be back in action on Sunday evening when they visit the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Center.

It marks the start of a four-game road trip with a second game against the senators on Tuesday, before the team heads to Manitoba for a few games against the Winnipeg Jets.



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