Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
In a battle of remodelled rivals, score one for the Montréal Canadiens.
Josh Gorges’ goal with 12.8 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night in the opener for both teams.
Gorges, whose power-play blast was tipped in by Glen Metropolit with 4:10 remaining to force overtime, picked up a juicy rebound after Vesa Toskala stopped Mike Cammalleri’s close-in chance. Gorges lifted it into the net to give the Canadiens their 49th victory in 92 season-openers.
“That’s a great way to start the season,” Gorges said. “I don’t score many goals.”
The goal capped a frustrating night for the sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre, which saw the Leafs outshoot their archrivals 46-27 only to be repeatedly denied by Carey Price.
“He was unbelievable,” Gorges said of the third-year goaltender, who’s coming off a poor second half and a disappointing playoff showing. “He held us in there when the game could have gotten out of hand.”
Added Cammalleri: “Carey stood on his head. He won us the game tonight.”
Toronto fell to 34-41-17 in its 92 season-openers, including 22-22-12 at home.
It was an especially tough night for former Canadien Mike Komisarek — one of eight new Leafs — who spent 15 minutes of his first game in blue and white in the penalty box; he was there for both of Montréal’s power-play goals.
“I think we were the better team tonight, and fell short,” said Komisarek, who signed a big free-agent contract with Toronto during the summer. “We didn’t get two points. Next time, we find a way to win and get the two points.
“Good start, could have been better, but we’ll take the point and take the positive out of it.”
Most painful was an elbowing call with 4:46 left in regulation and the Leafs clinging to a one-goal lead. Metropolit got position in front and tipped Gorges’ straightaway slap shot behind Toskala to force the overtime.
The pageantry that marks every Leafs home opener quickly gave way to a frantic tempo that saw a pair of scraps before the Canadiens opened the scoring 11:05 into the game.
Komisarek was sitting out a double minor for high sticking when Brian Gionta, one of Montréal’s plethora of newcomers, flashed out in front, took a pass from fellow newcomer Cammalleri and snapped the puck past Toskala at 11:05.
Alex Ponikarovsky tied it at 14:27 on the only one of Toronto’s 14 first-period shots to elude Price — who had no chance on his blast from between the circles.
The Canadiens went ahead again 6:38 into the second period on a goal by another newcomer, Travis Moen. The rugged forward tucked the puck past Toskala to give Montréal its second lead. Matt Stajan’s tip of Tomas Kaberle’s slapper at 10:29 during a 5-on-3 power play tied it at 2-2 after two periods.
The Leafs poured it on in the third and went ahead for the first time on another power-play goal by Stajan, who tapped in a pass from Jason Blake at 9:09.
But the Leafs, who were last in the NHL in penalty-killing last season, couldn’t kill the fifth minor of the night to Komisarek and allowed the Canadiens to force OT on Metropolit’s tip.
MTL PEN – 01:51 – Laraque, fighting major
TOR PEN – 01:51 – Orr, fighting major
MTL PEN – 10:55 – Moen, fighting major
TOR PEN – 10:55 – Rosehill, fighting major
TOR PEN – 11:01 – Komisarek, high sticking double minor
MTL PP GOAL – 11:05 – Gionta (Cammalleri, Plekanec)
TOR GOAL – 14:27 – Ponikarovsky (Grabovski, Hagman)
MTL GOAL – 06:38 – Moen (Metropolit, Laraque)
MTL PEN – 08:42 – D’Agostini, hooking
MTL PEN – 10:09 – Mara, holding
TOR PP GOAL – 10:29 – Stajan (Kaberle, Beauchemin)
TOR PEN – 14:56 – Exelby, interference
MTL PEN – 16:47 – A. Kostitsyn, slashing
TOR PEN – 16:47 – Komisarek, cross checking
MTL PEN – 05:56 – Gomez, roughing
TOR PEN – 05:56 – Komisarek, roughing
MTL PEN – 08:56 – Moen, interference + fighting major
TOR PEN – 08:56 – Komisarek, fighting major
TOR PP GOAL – 09:09 – Stajan (Blake, Stalberg)
TOR PEN – 15:14 – Komisarek, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 15:50 – Metropolit (Gorges, Mara)
MTL GOAL – 04:47 – Gorges (Cammalleri, Plekanec)
MTL – Price (W, 43-46)
TOR – Toskala (OTL, 23-27)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 7+6+10+4 = 27
TOR – 14+16+12+4 = 46
MTL – Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Carey Price. Defence: Hal Gill (A), Josh Gorges, Paul Mara, Andrei Markov (A), Ryan O’Byrne, Jaroslav Spacek. Forwards: Michael Cammalleri, Matt D’Agostini, Brian Gionta (A), Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Georges Laraque, Guillaume Latendresse, Glen Metropolit, Travis Moen, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec.
TOR – Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson, Vesa Toskala. Defence: François Beauchemin (A), Garnet Exelby, Tomas Kaberle (A), Mike Komisarek (A), Luke Schenn, Ian White. Forwards: Jason Blake, Mikhail Grabovski, Niklas Hagman, John Mitchell, Colton Orr, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Wayne Primeau, Jay Rosehill, Matt Stajan, Viktor Stalberg, Lee Stempniak, Rickard Wallin.
⭐ Josh Gorges (MTL)
⭐⭐ Matt Stajan (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Carey Price (MTL)