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Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Garret Sparks makes a save on Montreal Canadiens left winger Charles Hudon during the third period of a preseason game in Toronto, on Sept. 24, 2018.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Xavier Ouellet and Artturi Lehkonen each scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 in preseason play on Monday.

Charles Hudon had the other goal for Montreal, which picked up its fourth victory in five exhibition outings. Antti Niemi made 29 stops for the Canadiens, while rookie centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi continued to impress in his bid to make the club with an assist and a plus-3 rating. Joel Armia added two assists.

Kasperi Kapanen replied for Toronto as the Leafs lost for the first time in five preseason game. Garret Sparks got the start for Toronto, allowing five goals on 36 shots. Sparks is in a battle with Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard to be the backup to Leafs No. 1 netminder Frederik Andersen, but did little to help his cause.

Both teams dressed lineups at Scotiabank Arena filled heavily with players destined for the American Hockey League this season.

With the likes of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri sitting out, the Leafs’ projected fourth line on opening night of Kapanen, Par Lindholm and Andreas Johnsson was given top billing.

Montreal left Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin and Tomas Tatar at home, but Kotkaniemi got another look as the club continues to debate what to do with the No. 3 pick from June’s NHL draft – keep the 18-year-old centre, send him to the AHL or return him to his Finnish club.

The Canadiens opened the scoring at 10:17 of the first period when Kotkaniemi – playing his team-high fourth game of the exhibition schedule – took a shot that went off Leafs defenceman Andreas Borgman and right to Lehkonen, who scored his second goal of the preseason into an wide-open net.

Montreal then went ahead 2-0 at 12:38 when Ouellet’s half slapshot from the point found its way through a partial screen to beat Sparks between his arm and body for the defenceman’s first.

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock challenged the play for goalie interference, but the call on the ice stood after video review.

Toronto had a number of chances to get on the board throughout the period, but Niemi was there every time, stopping all 18 shots he faced.

Kapanen got the Leafs on the board 34 seconds after the intermission when his deflected shot looped up and over Niemi from in tight, but Ouellet scored his second at 4:28 with Kotkaniemi providing traffic in front.

Hudon made it 4-1 just 1:26 later when he turned Borgman around off the rush and beat Sparks for his second goal of the preseason.

Sparks then saw his clearing attempt from behind the net get intercepted by Matthew Peca, who fed Lehkonen in front his second of the evening with 5:03 left in the period.

The Leafs had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:12 late in the period, but couldn’t get anything going against Niemi, who is once again tabbed to be Price’s backup in Montreal.

It was more the same in the third inside a half-empty rink as the Canadiens’ B squad coasted home against their Leafs’ counterparts.

Notes: Montreal hosts Toronto on Wednesday in another exhibition matchup at the Bell Centre. ... The Leafs and Canadiens open the regular season Oct. 3 at Scotiabank Arena.

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