Canadiens bury Leafs in shootout
The Montreal Canadiens saw their rival Toronto Maple Leafs come back from the dead on Saturday but like a plucky teen heroine in a scary movie, the hometown Habs dealt the killing blow in the shootout for a 5-4 victory on Halloween.
Montreal's Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri put shots over Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala's glove hand in the shootout, and Jaroslav Halak stopped both shots he faced in the Canadiens goal.
The Habs thought they had the Leafs dead and buried after Roman Hamrlik scored to make it 4-2 at 9:50 of the third, but Toronto came back as Alexei Ponikarovsky scored with less than four minutes to go and Tomas Kaberle tied the game at with 54 seconds left.
"That was a rivalry game," said Cammalleri, a Toronto native. "There was no love lost. There were words exchanged that I can't repeat. There was blood on the ice. There were fights in the seats from what I could see. That's a rivalry game."
Glen Metropolit, Guillaume Latendresse and Hal Gill rounded out the scoring for Montreal. Ponikarovsky potted two for the Leafs (1-7-4), and Lee Stempniak added another.
Leaf defenceman Kaberle had a four-point night (one goal, three assists), while winger Mikhail Grabovski had three assists.
Habs centre Tomas Plekanec had two assists.
Montreal (7-7-0) responded well after Toronto scored the opening goal — the first time the Leafs have done so this season. The Habs replied with three unanswered goals in the second period before Stempniak brought the Leafs within one five minutes left in the frame.
Toronto defenceman Mike Komisarek made his return to Montreal as well, and the Habs faithful were as welcoming to him as a haunted house is to a band of tragically curious teenagers.
Boos, not the Halloween kind, rained down from the Bell Centre rafters every time Komaisarek touched the puck. The 27-year-old was a stalwart on the Canadiens blue-line from 2005-09, and signed with the hated Maple Leafs in the off-season.
"I guess if they didn't love me when I was here they wouldn't be booing, so I must have done something right when I was here," Komisarek said.
"I'll never say anything bad about the fans here, they're great fans. I wouldn't have expected anything else."
He was at the centre of things for most of Saturday night, drawing the penalty that led to the first Toronto goal and making two trips to the box himself. Scrums between the two teams punctuated most stoppages in play.
The Habs snapped a two-game skid, helped by the friendly confines of the Bell Centre, where they have won five straight. They're not lucky on the road, having lost five in a row on the road.
Goalie Halak made another case to become the permanent starter in Montreal, turning away 26 shots in regulation and overtime, plus two more in the shootout for his fifth victory in six games.
In the other crease, Toskala, who's fighting to remain the No. 1 goaltender in Toronto, recovered well after he gave up his first goal on a bad-angle shot barely a minute after the Leafs scored the opener in the second. Toskala made 35 stops in regulation and OT.
With the loss, his record dropped to 0-2-2 for the season but he remains positive.
"I can afford to start a new season," said Toskala. "I faced lots of shots and I made some good saves, so I think it's good to go on from here. I'd say that was my best game of the season."
Though the Leafs have only one win in their first 12 games this season, they have earned at least a point in their last four.
Toronto was 2-for-7 on the power play, while Montreal went 0-for-4.
It looked like the Canadiens would score the opener when the Leafs got into some penalty trouble in the first, but Toskala stood tall.
Toronto would get that coveted opening goal on the power play at 1:12 of the second when Ponikarovsky banged home a rebound off a Kaberle point shot for his fourth of the year.
At 2:27, Metropolit banked a shot off Toskala's pads and into the cage for his second of the season.
Latendresse gave Montreal a 2-1 lead when he whacked in a rebound off a Plekanec shot at 12:24, and Gill made it 3-1 barely two minutes later.
With files from The Canadian Press