Preseason Game 42 – Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1

Preseason Game 42
Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1
Monday, September 29, 2003
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Matt Stajan made it more difficult for Toronto to send him to St. John’s, scoring a goal and adding an assist Monday night as the Maple Leafs beat the Montréal Canadiens 3-1 in a sleepy preseason affair.

Stajan, 19, wasn’t given much of a shot of making the NHL club when camp opened earlier this month but his impressive play has opened some eyes. He wasn’t among the 16 players left behind in Newfoundland by head coach Pat Quinn over the weekend.

His play Monday night will further improve his chances although realistically the veteran-laden Leafs have very little wiggle room on their roster, especially for a player on a two-way contract.

Joe Nieuwendyk and Tie Domi also scored while defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo added two assists in his bid to make the big club, while prospect Tomas Plekanec replied for a Montréal lineup devoid of its biggest names.

As is custom for road teams in preseason play, the Habs looked more like the Hamilton Bulldogs, their AHL affiliate, than the NHL side that will face the Leafs in Toronto’s season opener October 11.

Among those not dressed Monday night was star goalie José Théodore, last season’s leading goal-scorer Richard Zednik, captain Saku Koivu (knee), as well as top defencemen Andrei Markov, Craig Rivet, Sheldon Souray and Stéphane Quintal.

One regular who did play was defenceman Patrice Brisebois, whose latest booing incident at the Bell Centre on Saturday night drew the ire of Bob Gainey. The new Habs GM lashed out at the fans who once again booed Brisebois, calling them “yellow” among other things and saying the team didn’t need them at the rink.

The easiest solution for all would seem to be a trade but Brisebois’s $4-million US a year salary isn’t very attractive to other NHL clubs, not to mention that fact he holds a no-trade clause and may not want to leave despite the abuse he’s taking from some fans. Stay tuned.

Captain Mats Sundin and winger Alex Mogilny were among the Toronto veterans who got the night off. Ed Belfour stopped 24 shots and went all the way in goal for Toronto.

Colaiacovo picked up his first assist when his point shot on a Leafs power play midway through the first period was tipped in by Nieuwendyk.

Domi made it 2-0 with just over five minutes left in the second period, diving into the crease and shoving a loose puck across the goal-line after Habs goalie Mathieu Garon lost sight of it following a stop on Stajan.

Stajan, the 57th overall pick by Toronto in the 2001 NHL entry draft, then completed the scoring 10:41 into the third period, banging home a rebound on Colaiacovo’s point shot.

Story property of

1st Period
TOR PEN – 08:59 – Colaiacovo
MTL PEN – 12:31 – Carpentier
TOR PP GOAL – 13:20 – Nieuwendyk (Colaiacovo)
TOR PEN – 20:00 – Domi

2nd Period
TOR GOAL – 14:51 – Domi (Stajan, Belak)
TOR PEN – 17:35 – Marchment
MTL PEN – 18:05 – Carpentier

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 04:13 – Carpentier, major
TOR PEN – 04:13 – Perrott, major
TOR PEN – 04:13 – Tucker
MTL PEN – 04:43 – Bouillon
TOR GOAL – 10:41 – Stajan (Colaiacovo)
MTL GOAL – 18:00 – Plekanec (Dagenais, Perezhogin)

TOR – Belfour (W, 24-25)
MTL – Garon (L, 32-35)

TOR – 18+9+8 = 35
MTL – 6+11+8 = 25