It was a typical Canadiens/Maple Leafs hockey game. Decided by one goal and fought right to the end when, with Canadiens net empty, the game’s first star Jean-Sebastien Giguere had to stop Brian Gionta with five seconds remaining to preserve a 3-2 win. Dustin Boyd narrowed the score to 2-1 at the end of the first period. After a scoreless second period, Toronto took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Clarke MacArthur. Jeff Halpern scored less than a minute later to close it to 3-2. The Canadiens, however, were unable to beat Giguere for the tieing goal. Six of the last seven Toronto/Montreal games have been decided by one goal, including two decided in a shootout and another in overtime.
Along with Boyd and Halpern, the game marked the Canadiens debut of forward Lars Eller and defenseman Alexandre Picard, both of whom had solid games.
The Canadiens outshot the Leafs 28-24, including 21-12 over the last two periods.
(Game Video Highlights Below)
The Way It Went –
Strong Start – The Canadiens got off to an aggressive start with good early pressure especially from the Plekanec, Eller, Kostitsyn line.
Turning It Around– The Leafs started to get their legs in the 5th minute of the game and at 6:42 opened the scoring on a sequence in which Tomas Plekanec bailed on a forecheck by the Leafs Colton Orr and Ryan O’Byrne was caught out of position leaving Tim Brent alone in front for a high backhand on Price. 1-0 Toronto.
Another Gaff – 2:15 later it was 2-0. Hal Gill was caught following the play up the left boards when the puck was stripped from Mathieu Darche and Phil Kessel wound up with breakaway. Kessel forced the puck behind Price.
Price Doesn’t Flinch – Toronto took seven straight shots on Price but failed to extend their lead.
Back in the Game -At 12.:19, some great work behind the net on Leafs defensemen Mike Komisarek and Carl Gunnarsson by Maxim Lapierre who force the turnover to Dustin Boyd, who scored unassisted. 2-1 at the end of the first. Shots on goal were 12-7 for Toronto.
The Second Period
Needing Work – The Canadiens power-play. Toronto took three successive penalties in the second period. In their six minutes of power play time they managed three shots on goal. The closest the Habs came to scoring was a goalpost by Plekanec halfway through a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 8:26 of the period. At the end of the second period, still 2-1 Toronto. Canadiens outshot the Leafs 10-5 in the second.
The Third Period
Line Juggling – Coach Jacques Martin opened the third period by replacing Benoit Pouliot with Mathieu Darche to start the third period with Gomez and Gionta. The next two times Gomez and Gionta were on the ice, Travis Moen was their left winger. The line was re-assembled late in the period.
This One Hurt – Once again a player left unattended in front of Carey Price as Jaroslav Spacek lost himself in the traffic. Clarke MacArthur backhanded the puck past Price to make it 3-1.
Getting It Back – Fifty-two seconds later, at 2:28 of the third, once again Maxim Lapierre was a key figure in the paint, allowing Jeff Halpern to bat in a rebound to make it 3-2.
Keeping it Close – With 1:45 remaining Price made his biggest save, sprawling across the goalmouth to stop Phil Kessel on what appeared to be a sure goal.
Hearing from the Captain – With the Canadiens down a goal and entering the final five minutes, Brian Gionta did his best. Four of his team-high five shots on goal came in the final 4:56 of the game, including his final one with five seconds left on which Giguere had to make an outstanding save to preserve the win.
Final score – Toronto-3 Montreal-2.
Summing It Up – A sloppy defensive game by the Canadiens who were missing some key components (Markov, Hamrlik, Cammalleri). An outstanding game from Lars Eller in his Canadiens debut. Although minus-2 in the game, he was a constant presence on the Canadiens best line with Plekanec and Kostitsyn. It was the only line that coach Martin didn’t tinker with during the game. Kostitsyn was good. Plekanec’s failure to take a check in the first period led to the first goal of the game. Hard to believe that the game was only P.K. Subban’s third in the regular season. He recorded 3-hits 3-blocked shots and five shots-taken, one on goal. I suppose there are those who will never stop complaining about Carey Price, but every one of the goals against were the result of major mistakes by the Canadiens defensively. The power play suffered without Cammalleri. Leafs were 0-for-5 against the Canadiens penalty killers.
Game Video Highlights
Next game Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
The Scorers – Toronto Brent (1st) (Phaneuf); Kessel (1st) (Bozak-Komisarek); MacArthur (1st) (Kulemin-Grabovski) Montreal – Boyd (1st) (unassisted); Halpern (1st) (Lapierre-Pouliot)
Shots on Goal – Montreal 7-1-11 = 28 Toronto 12-5-7 = 24
The Three Stars – First Jean-Sebastien Gigure (Stopped 26 of 28 shots); Second – Dustin Boyd (1 goal – 3 shots) Third – Clarke MacArthur (1goal-4 shots)