Josh Gorges goal with 13 seconds left in overtime lifted the Montreal Canadiens past the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 at the Air Canada Centre in Thursday night’s season opener for both teams.
Through the first two periods of the game Toronto (0-1) outshot the Canadiens 30-13, but in the third frame Montreal came back with 10 shots and four more in overtime.
Toronto managed only 12 in the third and four in the extra period.
Late in the game with the Leafs nursing a 3-2 lead, defenceman Mike Komisarek’s aggression got the better of him when he took a cross checking penalty right in front of a referee.
It cost the Leafs as Metropolit managed to stand right in front of goalie Vesa Toskala without being touched from where he tipped in a Gorges point shot during the power play.
That late goal gave Montreal some energy and they picked up their play, controlling the final four minutes of regulation and forcing Toskala to make a number of good saves.
Stajan gave Toronto a 3-2 lead with nine minutes left in the frame, when he scored his second power play goal of the night by tapping the puck into the empty Canadiens’ net.
Alexei Ponikarovsky had the other Toronto goal.
Toskala made 23 saves, while Price stopped 43 pucks.
Toskala and Komisarek had a rough third period. In a span of three minutes, Scott Gomez slammed into the Leafs netminder who was later hit by forward Travis Moen.
Sloppy early work
Both teams managed to overcome some sloppy play to take a 1-1 tie after the first period.
Montreal’s first tally (11:05) came seconds after Komisarek, the former Hab, was sent off for a high-sticking double minor.
The Leafs tied the game at 14:27 when a Niklas Hagman forecheck caused a turnover and Ponikarovsky one-timed a slap shot past Price.
Right at the end of the frame, forward Lee Stempniak had a great chance to break the deadlock, but was unable to lift the puck over the shoulder of the Canadiens’ netminder.
Habs take the lead
After a 1-1 first period, Montreal took the lead when Moen managed to slide the puck into the far side of the net after both Toronto defenders were caught behind the end line.
Before the goal, forward Maxim Lapierre was allowed to take several whacks at Toskala’s glove hand prior to a Leafs player getting there to check him.
The Leafs knotted the game at 10:38, when Stajan made a good play to tip a point shot past Price while Toronto was enjoying a two man advantage.
Notes: Toronto has just 13 players returning from the 2008-09 roster … Viktor Stalberg cracked the opening night lineup, the only former NCAA in the Leafs system to do so … Toronto and Montreal split the six-game series last season … The 48th Highlanders band performed their traditional opening night role before the game