Stajan, Leafs leave Montreal with win
Toronto rebounds from defensive collapse in New Jersey to post 3-2 victory
Toronto's Matt Stajan beat Montreal Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet for the winning goal with 94 seconds left in regulation Saturday night, just 24 hours after a couple of late goals cost the Maple Leafs in New Jersey.
Stajan's shoton a 2-on-1 rush went off Montreal defenceman MarkStreit's stickfor a3-2 win after Alex Steen forced a turnover at Toronto's blue-line with the Canadiens pressing late in the third period.
"I have to give credit to Steener for chipping [the puck] by his [defenceman]," Stajan told Cassie Campbell of Hockey Night in Canada. "I put it on the net and it found a hole. There's no better feeling than doing that to Montreal."
Huet, who made 28 saves on the night, said Stajan's shot slowed down and caught him off guard. "It definitely was not a great goal."
On Friday, the Leafs were on the other side when the Devils scored twice in a span of 97 seconds late in regulation en route to a 3-2 victory.
Mats Sundin and Tomas Kaberle also scored Saturday for the Maple Leafs (6-6-3), who earned their first victory in three games and halted a three-game losing streak in Montreal.
With the win, the Leafs moved to within two points of second-place Montreal (7-3-3) in the Northeast Division, but the Canadiens have two games in hand.
Kaberle's goal came at 1:18 of the first period with his team up a man. It was Toronto's first power-play goal in four games, snapping an 0-for-11 drought.
Montreal, which began the night with the NHL's No. 1 power play, went 1-for-3 and is 17 for its last 47 (36.2 per cent).
"We're playing well. We played well [Friday night]," said Stajan, who has four goals and 10 points in 15 games this season. "It shows the character of this team bouncing back tonight. We're getting great goaltending."
Vesa Toskala stood tall in the Toronto net, stopping 32 of 34 Montreal shots. He was spectacular in making 10 saves in the third period, coming up big against Alex Kovalev twice, Christopher Higgins, Mathieu Dandenault and Tomas Plekanec.
"The difference in this game was Toskala," said Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau. "We had excellent chances and didn't score."
Scoring for the Canadiens was Higgins and Mike Komisarek, with his first goal since Dec. 23, 2006, while Bryan Smolinski added two assists.
After Higgins gave Montreal its first lead of the night at 2:33 of the second period, Sundin scored his second goal in as many nights from behind the opposition net. This time, his pass through the crease deflected off Dandenault's right skate and through the legs of Huet, who finished with 28 saves.
Leafs on a mission
The Maple Leafs came out with a purpose from the opening shift, swarming the Canadiens' net early on and holding a 10-1 advantage in shots midway through the first period.
Toskala was sharp and kept it a 1-0 game, denying Saku Koivu on a few occasions. He also got some help from defenceman Hal Gill, who cut off Michael Ryder heading to the net during a Montreal power play.
"I felt pretty good. I got a little lucky a couple of times," Toskala said. "They made some cross-ice passes and I was able to get to them."
Komisarek got the Canadiens on the board at 16:46 when his point shot beat Toskala after appearing to hit something on the way to the Toronto net.
Montreal came out of the first intermission with new life and took the play to the Leafs, with Latendresse clanking one off the crossbar inside the first two minutes.
With Sundin in the penalty box for hooking, Higgins found a hole between Pavel Kubina and Gill and beat Toskala for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Toronto continues its four-game road trip in Ottawa on Tuesday and is expected to have forward Mark Bell in the lineup. He served the final game of a 15-game suspension that came after he pleaded no contest to criminal drunk-driving charges stemming from his arrest last September in California.
The Canadiens wrap up a four-game homestand Monday against Buffalo.