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Toffoli continues dominance as Montreal Canadiens trounce Vancouver Canucks 7-3

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VANCOUVER — Shea Weber isn't about to let the Montreal Canadiens become complacent. 

Sure, the squad dominated the Vancouver Canucks with a 7-3 win Thursday night. Yes, the team has yet to be beaten in regulation this year. Absolutely, new additions have meshed well early on, giving the Habs depth through the lineup. 

Still, there's work to be done, Weber said. 

“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement, too. We can’t get satisfied here," the Canadiens captain said after Thursday's victory. "We’ve done a lot of good things here but there’s a lot of season left her as well.”

Montreal (3-0-2) will likely be without a key piece as they move forward, at least temporarily. 

Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers caught Joel Armia in the chin with a hit late in Thursday's game, dropping the Canadiens forward to the ice. Armia went directly to the dressing room.

Coach Claude Julien later said Armia has been diagnosed with a concussion. 

Myers was given a match penalty for the play, a decision that Julien praised. 

“I know (Myers is) six-foot-seven, it just seems like a high hit," the coach said. 

“I don’t control with 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."

The hit followed a sloppy game for the Canucks, including a 94-second stretch in the second period where the team crumbled.

When Montreal goalie Jake Allen made a pad save on a long shot from J.T. Miller, Nick Suzuki stole the rebound and sprinted down the ice alone. 

Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko stopped Suzuki's blast, but Josh Anderson was lying in wait at the side of the net to bat the rebound out of the air and into the Canucks goal. 

Just nine seconds later, the Canadiens struck again when Paul Byron whipped a pass across the crease to Jake Evans, who buried it. 

Armia struck next, scoring with a backhand shot from the slot to put Montreal up 6-2.  

Armia tallied two goals and two assists, and his linemate Tyler Toffoli had a three-point night (two goals, one assist). 

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. Obviously guys picked off pucks and were able to give guys breakaways and guys finished off," Weber said. 

Toffoli also registered a hat trick against the Canucks — his former team — in Vancouver’s 6-5 shootout win Wednesday over Montreal.  

Josh Anderson, Jake Evans and Ben Chiarot also scored Thursday for the Canadiens.

Allen registered 14 saves and captured the 150th win of his NHL career.

At the other end of the ice, Demko stopped 35-of-42 shots for the Canucks (2-4-0).

Vancouver coach Travis Green said his team weren't simply giving up scoring chances on Thursday — they were giving up goals.

“We gift wrapped probably four to five goals," he 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 be lose bad and we did that tonight.”

The Canucks got a pair of goals from Bo Horvat, one from Brandon Sutter and a pair of assists from Myers.

The team simply wasn't good enough, Horvat said. 

"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 gonna try to win this miniseries here."

At times, the Canucks have looked "a little bit immature" this year, Green said. 

He believes it could have something to do with the team's playoff success last season, and the group forgetting how hard it is to win. 

"We're not a team that has ever won easy," the coach 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 got to get back to that.”

The Habs and Canucks will close out their three-game series Saturday at Rogers Arena. 

NOTE: Julien said left-winger Paul Byron is day-to-day after being injured while blocking a shot. … Vancouver defenceman Jalen Chatfield left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return … All five of Toffoli's goals this season have come against Vancouver. The 28-year-old centre signed with Montreal in free agency after play 10 regular-season games with the Canucks last year. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. 

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press