Sutter directs Flames past Canadiens in coaching return

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Josh Leivo scored twice and Calgary beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Thursday night in Darryl Sutter’s first game behind the bench in his Flames return.

Sutter took over last week for the fired Geoff Ward.

Sutter dedicated the victory to his mother and the team’s late president. His mother, Grace, celebrated her birthday Thursday, which was also the one-year anniversary of the death of longtime Flames President Ken King.

“This win is twofold here,” Sutter said. “One is for the late Ken King who we lost a year ago and the other is for my mother. It’s her 85th birthday today. This win is for those two.”

Sutter previously spent eight years in the Flames organization as coach and eventually GM between 2002-10. The 62-year-old former player last coached the Flames on April 17, 2006 in a playoff game.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 17 shots, and Derek Ryan and Sam Bennett assisted on both of Leivo’s goals.

Corey Perry scored for Montreal, and Jake Allen made 27 saves. The Canadiens are 3-2-3 since Dominique Ducharme replaced the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 24.

“No question a little bit of tired legs, but every team is going through it right now and points are crucial,” Allen said. “They came out and played a heavy, hard game. We knew they were going to do that obviously with a new coaching change. We just couldn’t find our groove tonight.”

Flames forward Milan Lucic and Canadiens winger Josh Anderson fought midway through the third period.

The teams will meet again Saturday night in Calgary.

“We played a patient game and pretty much a mistake-free game,” Sutter said. “There’s probably six or seven turnovers that we’re going to have to get out of our system. But you’re playing against a team that doesn’t give up much. To be able to come away with a win, we needed it. We’ll play a much better team on Saturday than we did tonight.”

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