Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez both scored in the shootout to lead the Montreal Canadiens past the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Halloween night at the Bell Centre.
Glen Metropolit, Guillaume Latendresse, Hal Gill and Roman Hamrlik scored for the Canadiens [7-7] during regulation. Montreal has won five straight at home, the first time they’ve accomplished the feat since Jan. 4-31.
Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice while Lee Stempniak and Tomas Kaberle netted markers for the Leafs [1-7-4], who end their five-game road trip at 1-1-3.
Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak [5-2] made 26 saves in regulation and stopped Stempniak and Kaberle in the shootout to record his fifth straight victory.
Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala [0-2-2] made 35 saves in his first since sustaining a knee injury in the club’s 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Oct. 12.
However, the netminder’s shootout woes, 6-13 all-time, caught up with him once again in the loss.
Leafs stage comeback in the third
With the Leafs down 4-2 in the third, Ponikarovsky scored his second at 16:32 to cut Toronto’s lead to one before Kaberle tied the game with 54 seconds left on a point shot just inside the blue line that fooled Halak.
The Leafs all-star defenceman also added three assists in the game, giving him 13 points on the five game road trip.
Toskala strong in the first
The Leafs goaltender showed no ill-effects early on, stopping all 12 Canadiens shots in a scoreless opening frame.
Just 1:02 into the second, Marc-Andre Bergeron was called for interference giving the league’s third-best power play unit another man advantage.
After Halak failed to cover the rebound on a Kaberle slap shot from the point, Ponikarovsky got his stick on the puck and shoved it past the Canadiens goaltender for the 1-0 lead.
Not only ending his own six-game goalless streak, Ponikarovsky’s tally marked the first time the Leafs have scored the opening goal in a contest this season.
Leafs take the lead, then give it away
After Garnet Exelby failed to clear the puck out of his own zone, Travis Moen found Metropolit, whose soft shot from the red line trickled past Toskala, tying the game 1-1 at 2:27, a minute and fifteen seconds after Ponikarovsky’s goal.
Latendresse netted his second of the season at 12:24 to put the Canadiens up 2-1 and Gill made it a two-goal lead for Montreal at 14:52 as his slap shot from the point went off the skate of Francois Beauchemin and into the Toronto net, just as a Canadiens power play had expired.
The two teams scrummed after the goal with Gill receiving the extra penalty, allowing the Leafs another man advantage.
Stempniak’s hot streak continues
Stempniak took full advantage of the Canadiens’ costly error, blasting a shot from the point that beat Halak top-corner at 15:16 to cut Montreal’s lead to 3-2, giving the Leafs winger three goals and six points in his last four games.
Hamrlik then deflected a Gomez shot with his skate past Toskala at 9:50 of the third to restore the two-goal lead for the Canadiens, before the goals by Ponikarovsky and Kaberle.
The defenceman’s fourth goal came just after a Mike Komisarek penalty for cross-checking ended.
Making his return to the Bell Centre since signing with Toronto during the off-season, Komisarek received a chorus of boos from the Montreal faithful anytime he came even close to the puck and finished with a minus-3 on the night.
Notes: The Leafs could soon get an offensive boost as Phil Kessel has been taken off the injured reserved list and could suit up for the team when they return home to face the Tampa Bay Lighting Nov.3 … The Canadiens lead the season series 2-0 and the two teams will next meet on Dec.1 in Montreal.