Koivu breaks out of slump to lead Habs over Leafs
Toronto's McCabe breaks hand in 3 places
Perhaps all those people calling Montreal area radio talk shows demanding the Canadiens trade captain Saku Koivu will take a day or two off.
The beleaguered Habs' leader answered his critics nicely on Saturday with a pair of goals — one lucky and one pretty — in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was Montreal's first victory at home since Nov. 17, when they beat Boston 7-4. Since then they've lost six times at the Bell Centre, two of those in a shootout.
Andrei Kostitsynand Alex Kovalev also scored for the Canadiens (16-11-5), while goaltender Carey Price continued his stellar play against the Leafs, improving his record this season to 3-0 when facing the blue and white.
Boyd Devereaux had the only goal for the Leafs.
Toronto had wins in six of their last seven, including a Friday night shutout of the Atlanta Thrashers. Saturday's game was the second of seven straight on the road that will take the Leafs right through Christmas and the club looked tired.
They move on to Florida for three games next week, a trip that will not includedefenderBryan McCabe, who fell into the boards awkwardly after being checked by Kastsitsynin the third period on a play that led to Montreal's fourth goal.
Holding his left handand obviously in a lot of pain, he went straight to the dressing room and later was taken for X-rays in the building. It was later announced he broke his hand in three places.
Captain opens scoring
Koivu opened the scoring just before the halfway mark of the first frame on a play that combined effort and luck in equal measure.
Picking up the puck from the left circle, he circumnavigated the net, emerged on the other side and sent the puck towards the crease where it hit Leaf defenceman Hal Gill in the skate and went by goaltender Vesa Toskala.
That may have itself cut off the almost constant trade rumours surrounding Koivu (who hadn't scored in 12 games), at least until the end of the period when everyone went for a chat at the snack bar.
But Koivu had his second of the night before the hot dog stands emptied for the start of the second frame.
Toronto's defence somehow left the centre unattended in front of Toskala just as a shot from the point came in. Koivu directed it off his right skate onto his forehand and then zipped it by the goaltender and into the net.
Those goals gave him seven for the season.
"When you don't score and there's a lot of talk about not scoring, getting that first goal was a big relief," Koivu said. "But this was more about getting that win on home ice.
"We played well for 60 minutes and, when you you play well defensively, it gives you a chance to win."
Second period lets Toronto down
The Leafs had come into the game as the NHL's best second period club, outscoring opponents 44-28 in the middle 20 minutes. Not this time, however, as they gave up two and found nothing for themselves in the pre-Christmas stocking.
Montreal's third goal again began off the point, this time on a shot from Michael Komisarek that changed direction courtesy Andrei Kastsitsyn's red-and-white glove.
Kovalev scored his 14th of the year on a ping-pong play in the third. His shot pinged off Toskala, rebounded straight out and ponged off defenceman Tomas Kaberle and back into the net to make it 4-0.
Toronto's late goal broke off Price's try at his first career shutout.
"It's tough, but I'd rather get the win than anything else," he said. "It's nice to win one at home."
The Habs are 3-1-1 against Toronto this season and lead the Leafs by three points in the Eastern Conference standings.
With files from the Canadian Press