An early second period goal was enough to give the Maple Leafs an opening night win at home against the Montreal Canadiens. After giving up a shorthanded goal, the Habs went down two goals early in the third period and were unable to mount any form of a comeback and allowed James Reimer to earn his fifth career shutout and dropped the opening game to Toronto for the second season in a row.
The game started off on the right foot for the Habs who were able to pin the Leafs in their own zone for extended periods. They were able to outshoot the Leafs by a margin of 14-4 in the first period and had numerous scoring chances. The PP was given a chance to flex its muscles after penalties to John-Michael Liles and Luke Schenn but came up empty on both occasions. The best chance came when Andrei Kostitsyn picked up a rebound and proceeded to hit both posts with successive shots.
The second period was a different story altogether. While Montreal was still killing a penalty from the first period, P.K. Subban was caught pinching at the blue line and Matthew Lombardi rushed down the ice on a 2-on-1 and picked up his own rebound to slot home for the first goal of the game. The Leafs were then able keep the momentum and outplayed the Canadiens for the remainder of the period, even picking up a 5-3 powerplay at the end of the frame.
The Habs managed to kill off their numerous penalties but early in the third period Subban turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Phil Kessel carried it into the zone before setting up Dion Phaneuf for a one-timer that went off the crossbar and into the net for the second goal of the game. As the game wore on the Canadiens were able to control the puck and put pressure on the Leafs but it was all for not as their closest chance came from a Yannick Weber point shot that hit the post. Weber moved back to his usual defence spot after Chris Campoli went down awkwardly in the second period and did not return.
The Canadiens had their chances to win the game, as they outshot the Maple Leafs 31-18, but the preseason trend of poor finishing seems to have carried over into the regular season. After starting the game so well and being unable to get the lead, the game turned after the shorthanded goal early in the second and the Canadiens were never able to get back into it. Only 81 more games to go.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Carey Price (16 saves, .889 SV%,)
He may not have had a great statistical night but he was the best Canadien on the ice. He made a few great saves in the second and third periods which gave his team a chance to win the game. But in the end, no matter how many saves he makes he can’t score the goals too.
2nd Star: Tomas Plekanec (4 shots, 23:30 TOI)
He may have been at on the point for the opening goal of the game but he was also the most consistent forward throughout the game. He had his legs moving and created some chances in the first period that his linemates were unable to finish.
3rd Star: Andrei Kostitsyn (4 shots, 14:44 TOI)
He started the game well, on the first line, and had some really good chances to score, including hitting the post twice. He started to trail off in the second period and was subsequently demoted to the third line but in a very average group of players at least he had one good period.