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Flames teen Monahan keys win over Habs

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CALGARY, Alberta -- Five games remain before the Calgary Flames must determine their short-term plans for junior-aged center Sean Monahan.

The 18-year-old is making it obvious he wants to stay for the entire season.

The sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Monahan scored once and added an assist for the Flames in a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"I just, sometimes, pinch myself wondering if I need to check his birth certificate," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "The poise that he's showing for an 18-year-old kid ... He's having fun. He's bringing passion, he's bringing excitement and he's learning. He's a pretty special kid."

Sven Baertschi and Curtis Glencross also scored for the Flames (2-0-2), who extended their point streak to four games. Calgary goalie Joey MacDonald made 33 stops in his third consecutive start.

P.K. Subban and Lars Eller scored for the Canadiens (1-2-0), while Carey Price finished with 22 saves.

MacDonald was selected the first star, but there's no doubt which player Flames fans were talking about after the team's first home-ice victory of the season -- Monahan.

The 6-foot-2 center, who turns 19 on Saturday and must be returned to the Ontario Hockey League's Ottawa 67's if he doesn't stick in the NHL, is making the most of his extended audition with the big club. Monahan can play nine games with the Flames before the team must decide his destination.

Monahan has points in all four of Calgary's games so far and leads the team with three goals.

"I think I did some of the little things well tonight," Monahan said. "Obviously, it's nice to get points, but at the end of the day, you want to win games. That's what I'm most happy about."

Monahan opened the scoring at the 9:09 mark of the first period, setting up winger Lee Stempniak on an odd-man rush and then capitalizing on the rebound after Price made the initial stop.

Just before the first intermission, Monahan made a great cross-crease pass to Baertschi, who scored on a tap-in to give his linemate his first multi-point night at the NHL level.

"We're building up some confidence, especially him," Baertschi, 21, said of Monahan. "For him, he's a really confident guy and he knows what he's doing out there, and that's the main thing. He understands the game really well, so that makes it easy for me to understand what he's going to do. And same thing for me, he knows what I'm going to do.

"That's how chemistry works."

Glencross padded the lead at 16:22 of the middle frame with a dandy deflection of Dennis Wideman's shot from the point on the power play. It proved a valuable insurance marker when Subban scored on a man-advantage just 1:24 later.

Eller was in the right place at the right time to trim Calgary's lead to 3-2 at 10:40 of the third period, scoring on a one-timer after the puck bounced off the end boards and into the danger zone.

That was as close at the Canadiens would get. MacDonald made several solid saves as the Habs pressed for the equalizer, although his best work was undoubtedly a robbery of defenseman Andrei Markov on a second-period power play.

The Habs fired 35 shots on MacDonald, including a dozen in the opening period, but Eller blamed a sluggish start for the outcome of the game.

"I think our first period was the difference in this game," Eller said. "They flat-out outworked us and outplayed us in the first, and from there, it's just uphill. We got close, but not close enough. I think if we would've started the game better, we would have had a better chance to win the game."

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien wasn't quite as critical, although he wasn't impressed with Subban after the flashy defenseman was whistled for two third-period penalties. Subban's cross-checking minor with 1:49 remaining spoiled any hope of a Montreal comeback.

"You know what? We didn't play a bad game," Therrien said. "I thought we pushed the pace. I believe they took advantage of their opportunities, especially in the first period. We had 12 shots, they only had five, and we were down by two goals.

"We didn't react well to the two mistakes we made in the first period, and it's one of those things where we took some penalties in the third period, and we shouldn't have taken those type of penalties."

The Canadiens continue their road trip Thursday in Edmonton against the Oilers. Next up for the Flames is Friday's visit from the New Jersey Devils.

NOTES: The Canadiens remain winless at the Saddledome since Jan. 5, 2002, a span of seven consecutive setbacks. ... LW Max Pacioretty was back in Montreal's lineup after missing one game with a wrist injury. The Habs were without the services of D Davis Drewiske (shoulder), D Alexei Emelin (knee) and D Douglas Murray (upper body) and tough guy George Parros (concussion), while C Matt Stajan (leg) and LW Michael Cammalleri were out for the Flames. On Wednesday, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told the Montreal Gazette that Parros, who was carried off the ice on a stretcher and taken to hospital after being injured during a fight in Montreal's season opener, was "almost symptom-free" ... Canadiens LW Rene Bourque skated in the 500th game of his NHL career, a tally that includes 249 appearances for the Flames. Bourque was part of a package traded to the Habs in January 2012, with Cammalleri and Flames backup G Karri Ramo heading the other way.
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