VANCOUVER, Canada: Tyler Toffoli had two more goals and an assist, and the Montreal Canadiens became the first NHL team in 46 years to open a season with at least a point in five straight road games by beating the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 on Thursday night.
A night after scoring a hat trick against his former team in a shootout loss to the Canucks, Toffoli helped the Canadiens improve to 3-0-2. The Los Angeles Kings also accomplished the five-game road feat to start the 1974-75 season.
The Canadiens and Canucks will complete their three-game series Saturday, ending Montreal’s season-opening trip.
“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement, too. We can’t get satisfied here,” Montreal captain Shea Weber said. “We’ve done a lot of good things here, but there’s a lot of season left here as well.”
Joel Armia had two goals and two assists, and Josh Anderson, Jake Evans and Ben Chiarot also scored for the Canadiens. Jake Allen made 14 saves for his 150th NHL victory.
Bo Horvat scored twice for Vancouver, Brandon Sutter had a goal, and Thatcher Demko stopped 35 shots.
“We gift-wrapped probably four to five goals,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “It wasn’t a game where we’re hemmed in our zone the whole game, it was just giving breakaways. In this league if you give up chances that are gifts, you are going to lose bad and we did that tonight.”
Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers had two assists, but also took a major penalty and three minors.
Myers caught Armia in the chin with a hit late in the game, dropping the Canadiens forward to the ice. Armia went directly to the dressing room and later was diagnosed with a concussion, Montreal coach Claude Julien said.
Myers was given a match penalty for the play, a decision Julien praised.
“I know (Myers is) 6-foot-7, it just seems like a high hit,” the coach said.
“I don’t control what happens with the league and the disciplinary actions coming from there. But we’re trying to clean up our game, make sure we take disciplinary actions for vulnerable hits or unsuspecting players. And I think in this case, Armia didn’t see him coming.”
Armia and his linemate, Toffoli, combined for seven points. Two of the duo’s goals came on Canucks power plays.
“We’ve got guys that can fly and tonight there was a couple of good reads,” Weber said. “Obviously, guys picked off pucks and were able to give guys breakaways and guys finished off.”
Horvat said the Canucks simply weren’t good enough.
“We’ve got to figure it out within our dressing room and buy in,” he said. “I think everybody’s got to step up, including myself, and take responsibility for our play and get back at it again. It’s a long year, we have another game against these guys and we’re going to try to win this mini-series here.”
At times, the Canucks have looked “a little bit immature” this year, Green said.
He believes it could have something to do with their playoff success last season, and the group forgetting how hard it is to win.
“We’re not a team that has ever won easy,” Green said. “We’ve got to grind out wins and we’ve got to realize that and remember it’s hard to win in the league. And we had that mentality last year. We’ve got to get back to that.”