Canadiens prevail over Maple Leafs in OT
Josh Gorges scored with 12.8 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Montreal Canadiens over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in a spirited season opener at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night.
Gorges also assisted on Glen Metropolit's tying power-play goal with 4:10 left in regulation.
Brian Gionta and Travis Moen scored in a winning debut for both them and Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin, pried away from the Florida Panthers on June 1.
Mike Cammalleri, another new Hab, contributed two assists and Carey Price sparkled between the pipes, kicking aside 43 shots compared with just 23 for Vesa Toskala.
"[Price] was unbelievable," said Gorges. "He held us in there when the game could have got out of hand."
Much is expected of both starting netminders this season, with Price striving for consistency and Toskala trying not to surrender soft goals.
Matt Stajan tallied twice and Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored for the rough-and-tumble Maple Leafs, who have bulked up with enforcer Colton Orr and tightened up defensively with newcomers like Francois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek.
Komisarek, who spent six seasons with Montreal before signing a five-year, $22.5-million US contract with Toronto this summer, looked solid in his debut with the Maple Leafs but couldn't stay out of the penalty box.
Komisarek finished with a whopping 15 penalty minutes courtesy of five minor infractions and a fighting major.
"I think we were the better team tonight, and fell short," said Komisarek. "We didn't get two points. Next time, we'll find a way to win and get the two points.
"Good start, could have been better, but we'll take the point and take the positive out of it."
Right place, right time for Metropolit
Montreal opened the scoring 11:05 into the contest as Gionta converted Cammalleri's pass off a faceoff for a power-play goal, his first with Montreal.
Less than five minutes later, former Maple Leafs defenceman Hal Gill coughed up the puck behind the Montreal net and Mikael Grabovski passed it into the slot for Ponikarovsky, who ripped it past Price to tie it 1-1.
Montreal regained the lead when Moen jammed in Metropolit's pass from behind the net 6:38 into the second period.
But the Maple Leafs pulled even on an alert play at the point by defenceman Tomas Kaberle, who wound up to take a slapshot and instead sent a long pass along the ice that Stajan redirected behind Price for the tying goal at 10:29.
Stajan broke the 2-2 deadlock when he whacked in a bouncing pass from linemate Jason Blake with 9:31 left in the third period.
But Metropolit tied it with 4:10 on the clock, tipping Gorges' point shot past Toskala to force overtime.
"It's just one of those things," Metropolit said. "I couldn't believe I was on the power play, so I'm like, 'Where do I go?' So I said, 'Why not go to the front of the net?"'
With files from The Canadian Press