"I wanted to come out and have a big game," said Kadri, who was named the first star of the game. "Obviously the magnitude of the game was huge and for us to chase the top spot in the division is still a realistic goal for us. We knew we had to come out and play a very good team."
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle credited Kadri with playing a solid game and then made it clear he expects to see more games like that in the future.
"I would say that we have been patient with Nazem and we have tried to work with him," Carlyle said. "We're not working against him. We're trying to provide him with an opportunity to continue to grow his game. He's a typical young player. The good players find out early it's not easy every day and there's a certain program that you have to follow and there are certain things you can and can't do. When things are not going well on the ice you have to find another way to be effective."
Carlyle said Kadri's hitting was appreciated. He led all Toronto forwards with five hits.
"We weren't too thrilled about their first goal," van Riemsdyk said. "The player who scored came by our bench and was chirping at us. If they want to play that game then we'll play it, too."
It was actually Brendan Gallagher who scored the goal, but Subban taunted the Toronto bench.
Added Kadri: "No one likes to see that and it kind of lit a fire under us. It motivated us a little bit."
A special night
With the largest crowd of the season on hand, the Maple Leafs and Canadiens played a spirited game fueled by the great atmosphere in the building.
"It's a nervous time for coaches," Carlyle admitted. "It's positive and this is why you play the game. If you don't get shivers and chills when it's Toronto and Montreal on a Saturday night and it's on Hockey Night in Canada either in Montreal or Toronto, I don't think you understand the true meaning of the game here in Canada; especially on Hockey Day in Canada."
Sleeping on the job
When Toronto's Troy Bodie and Montreal's Brandon Prust dropped their gloves to fight early in the second period in the Canadiens zone, the Habs were on a rush and the officials didn't stop play.
Gunnar duped by Gallagher
Toronto defenceman Carl Gunnarsson made a horrible giveaway in his own zone that resulted in him having to hold Montreal's Gallagher who was charging to the net and he was thus penalized. On the Montreal power play Gallagher notched his 12th goal of the season.
Canada vs. USA
When Toronto's Phil Kessel broke in alone on Montreal goalie Carey Price midway through the second period, it was a preview of what we could see at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Kessel deked to his backhand and tried to go upstairs with his shot, but Price robbed him. Kessel will play for Team USA and Price for team Canada. Kessel later scored his 23rd goal of the season and it was the 300th point of his career with the Maple Leafs.
It was Canada vs. USA on the game-winning goal and this time American-born van Riemsdyk got the better of Price tipping home a perfect pass from Tyler Bozak.
Lupul awarded goal
Toronto's Joffrey Lupul was racing toward the empty Montreal net with Price pulled in favor of an extra skater when he was tugged at from behind. Even though Lupul's shot missed the net, he was awarded a goal because of the foul.
When Carlyle noticed Montreal had put tough guy George Parros out for a shift, he countered by putting together a makeshift line with Peter Holland between Mason Raymond and Kessel. The trio responded with a goal, Kessel netting his 23rd of the season. It was also his 300th point as a Maple Leaf.
Sharp dressed men
The Maple Leafs wore the same throwback jerseys they wore New Year's Day in Ann Arbor for the outdoor game.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield did a good job singing the national anthem prior to the game and received a warm welcome from the fans. FYI: He was wearing a Leafs' jersey.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.