Canada

Canadiens ride second-period explosion to easy victory over Canucks

Montreal scores four times during the middle frame to break open a 2-2 game. Tyler Toffoli and Joel Armia each score two goals on the night.

Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli battles Canucks' Tyler Motte for control of the puck during first period Thursday night in Vancouver.

Tyler Toffoli and Joel Armia picked up where they left off Wednesday as they each scored two goals to lead the Canadiens to a 7-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night at Rogers Arena.

The Canadiens blew this game wide-open in the second period, which started with  Armia setting up Toffoli for a short-handed goal to put Montreal ahead 3-2. Montreal outshot Vancouver 18-3 in the period and their relentless pressure paid off when they scored three goals in a 1:35 span late in the period to take a commanding 6-2 lead.

Nick Suzuki touched off the explosion when he tested backup goaltender Thatcher Demko with a backhander. Demko made the same, but Josh Anderson was crashing the net and batted the rebound out of the air at 14:56.

Rookie fourth-liner Jake Evans won the ensuing centre-ice faceoff and drove to the net to score his second goal of the season at 15:05 on a nice pass from Paul Byron. Armia notched his second goal of the game at 16:40. He also had two assists for his first four-point night.

While Toffoli picked up where he left off Wednesday night, so did Vancouver’s Bo Horvat as Montreal and Vancouver skated to a 2-2 standoff in the first period.

It was a mirror image of Wednesday’s game with the Canadiens striking first and the Canucks playing catch-up.

Toffoli, who had a hat trick in Wednesday’s 6-5 shootout loss, opened the scoring before the period was two minutes old. He and Armia were lurking in front when Jesperi Kotkaniemi centred the puck from behind the net and Toffoli scored on a second effort.

Horvat, who had two goals and the shootout winner Wednesday, brought Vancouver even when he tipped a Tyler Myers shot past Jake Allen, who was making his second start of the season.

The Canadiens’ penalty-kill, which was totally ineffective Wednesday, had a hand in the next three goals, but this time there was some reason to be happy.

There was a good result when Toffoli intercepted a pass from Nate Schmidt and set up Armia, who beat Demko on a breakaway for a 2-1 lead.

There was a less satisfying result less than two minutes later when Horvat scored on a power play.

Vancouver started the second period on the power play, but the Canadiens forced a turnover and Armia sent Toffoli on a breakaway. Toffoli waited until Demko dropped down to cover the five-hole and he veered to his right for an easy tap-in. Montreal’s second short-handed goal of the night was their fourth this season.

Ben Chiarot scored a power-play goal late in the third period to complete the scoring.

Allen gave up a third-period goal to Brandon Sutter and finished with only 14 saves to run his record to 2-0.

The win gave the Canadiens a 3-0-2 record on their season-opening road trip, which  winds up Saturday with the third meeting between the Canadiens and the Canucks(7 p.m., CBC, SN, City, TVS Sorts, TSN-690 Radio). The Canadiens meet Calgary in their home opener on Thursday.

phickey@postmedia.com

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