Tyler Toffoli-led Canadiens look to hold off rival Senators

NHL

The Montreal Canadiens continue to bolster their playoff hopes and Tyler Toffoli is a big reason for their success this season.

Toffoli will try to lead the Canadiens to another victory when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.

Toffoli scored both goals in a 2-1 win against the Calgary Flames on Friday, giving him a team-high 21 on the season.

Montreal is fourth in the North Division, six points ahead of the fifth-place Flames, and the Canadiens have played three fewer games than Calgary.

The Canadiens are 19-13-9 this season, and 9-2-4 when Toffoli scores at least one goal.

“He’s just got that knack for the net. He’s a smart hockey player,” Montreal goalie Jake Allen said. “He’s not the fastest guy in the world by any means, but if you have a better mind that way, you don’t need to be fast, you just need to know where the puck is.”

An Ottawa player will make his team debut for a third straight game when Shane Pinto makes his NHL debut against Montreal.

Pinto, a center, was the first pick in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft. He recently finished his sophomore season at the University of North Dakota, totaling 15 goals and 17 assists in 28 games.

“Everybody is just so good and there’s not going to be many mistakes out there,” the 20-year-old Pinto said of the NHL. “Just the speed part of it, and just making plays, is going to be faster. Other than that, I think our conference did a great job preparing us, so it’s not going to be anything too crazy to make the jump.”

Jacob Bernard-Docker, Pinto’s teammate at North Dakota the past two seasons, made his NHL debut in a 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.

Bernard-Docker, a defenseman, was the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

“It was pretty special,” Bernard-Docker said of his first NHL game. “That was just something that I was trying to soak in. That’s what all the guys have been saying to me, they were just telling me to enjoy it and play with confidence.”

The Senators became thin on their blue line when they traded defensemen Mike Reilly and Braydon Coburn on Sunday and Erik Gudbranson on Monday.

Victor Mete began this week as a member of the Canadiens, but he’ll finish the week playing against them.

Mete was claimed by the Senators on Monday, less than 24 hours after the 22-year-old defenseman was put on waivers by the Canadiens.

Mete has already played two games with Ottawa, and he said he’s settling in nicely.

“I wouldn’t say there were any nerves,” Mete said. “I would just say I was excited to kind of start fresh here and just take off hopefully. The only thing with the systems, it’s a little different.”

Mete isn’t even the youngest defenseman for the Senators, whose blue line corps also includes 21-year-old Erik Brannstrom and 20-year-old Bernard-Docker.

The Canadiens welcomed back defenseman Ben Chiarot on Friday after he missed 15 games with a fractured hand.

Montreal is also hopeful to have veteran goalie Carey Price back after he missed the past six games with a lower-body injury. The Canadiens recalled Cayden Primeau from their AHL affiliate on Friday just in case Price is not ready.

Allen made 28 saves in Friday’s win.

–Field Level Media

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