Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Centre Bell, Montréal, Québec
Matt Stajan enjoyed adding the latest bit of lore to the NHL’s longest-standing rivalry.
Stajan scored late in the third period to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the Montréal Canadiens on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old centre ended a nine-game goal drought when he broke down the right side and put a slap shot past Cristobal Huet with 1:34 remaining in the third and Toronto went on to its first win in three games.
“I let it fire and I heard a metal thump,” Stajan said. “I knew it was the middle bar behind the goalie and I saw the red light go on, and the rest is history. It’s a great feeling.”
Tomas Kaberle and Mats Sundin also scored for the Maple Leafs, who lost 3-2 in New Jersey one night earlier.
Vesa Toskala, who turned aside 18 shots on Friday, felt fine despite a heavy workload in a 32-save outing. The Finnish goalie claimed the only time he felt the effects of starting on consecutive nights was on a lengthy Canadiens cycle that led to defenceman Mike Komisarek’s tying goal late in the first.
“I was sucking wind after that,” Toskala said.
Chris Higgins scored the other goal for the Canadiens, who lost in regulation for the first time in seven games (5-1-1).
“I thought coming into this building on a Saturday night on back-to-back nights, with them rested and them rolling the way they are, to win in regulation, it’s a great outing for us,” Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said.
Bryan Smolinski assisted on both Montréal goals.
It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams, who have faced each other every season since the league was formed in 1917. Kaberle scored the overtime winner in Toronto’s 4-3 win over Montréal on October 6.
“They played a smart game,” Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. “They played well defensively, they didn’t force anything and then they got the winner in the end.”
Huet made 28 saves, including a fine glove stop on Jason Blake 4:52 into the third.
“Obviously it’s frustrating to lose a big game like that late in the game,” Huet said. “We had our ups and downs in the game but it’s a shame to see it finish that way.”
Sundin tied it at 2 when he was credited with his eighth goal of the season at 6:04 of the second period. The Maple Leafs captain centered the puck from behind the net and watched in delight as it bounced off Montréal right wing Mathieu Dandenault’s skate and past Huet.
Huet caught a break moments later after he misplayed a puck behind his own net. The Canadiens goalie took too much time handling the puck and had it stripped by Nik Antropov, who centered the puck.
With a shot at a wide open left side, Chad Kilger put the puck wide as Huet scrambled back into the crease.
Kaberle opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season on a power play 1:18 in.
Komisarek scored late in the first to tie it at 1, and Higgins got his sixth goal on a 5-on-3 opportunity early in the second to put the Canadiens up 2-1.
NOTES: The Maple Leafs played on consecutive nights for the second time this season. Toronto lost its home opener 4-3 to Ottawa in overtime on October 3, and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Senators in the Canadian capital the following night…The Canadiens have yet to trail after the first period this season…LW Mikhail Grabovski was a healthy scratch for Montréal.
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MTL PEN – 0:44 – Dandenault, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 01:18 – Kaberle (Ponikarovsky, Stajan)
TOR PEN – 14:07 – Wozniewski, holding
MTL GOAL – 16:46 – Komisarek (Dandenault, Smolinski)
TOR PEN – 00:39 – Sundin, hooking
TOR PEN – 01:37 – Devereaux, slashing
MTL PP2 GOAL – 02:33 – Higgins (Markov, Smolinski)
TOR GOAL – 06:04 – Sundin (Ponikarovsky, White)
MTL PEN – 01:21 – team, too many men on the ice
TOR GOAL – 18:26 – Stajan (White)
MTL PEN – 19:55 – Markov, holding
TOR – Toskala (W, 32-34)
MTL – Huet (L, 28-31)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 12+12+7 = 31
MTL – 7+17+10 = 34
TOR – Goaltenders: Andrew Raycroft, Vesa Toskala. Defence: Hal Gill, Tomas Kaberle (A), Pavel Kubina, Anton Stralman, Ian White, Andrew Wozniewski. Forwards: Nikolai Antropov (A), Wade Belak, Jason Blake, Boyd Devereaux, Simon Gamache, Chad Kilger, John Pohl, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Alexander Steen, Mats Sundin (C), Jiri Tlusty.
MTL – Goaltenders: Cristobal Huet, Carey Price. Defence: Patrice Brisebois, Mathieu Dandenault, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Mike Komisarek, Andrei Markov, Mark Streit. Forwards: Steve Bégin, Kyle Chipchura, Christopher Higgins (A), Saku Koivu (C), Andrei Kostitsyn, Tom Kostopoulos, Alex Kovalev (A), Guillaume Latendresse, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Ryder, Bryan Smolinski.
TOR – 6-6-3 (.500)
MTL – 7-3-3 (.654)
⭐ Mats Sundin (TOR)
⭐⭐ Christopher Higgins (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ Tomas Kaberle (TOR)