Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 1
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Carey Price helped the Montréal Canadiens spoil Mike Babcock’s debut as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pacioretty scored twice, Galchenyuk had the go-ahead goal with 7:58 remaining, and Price made 36 saves to give the Canadiens a 3-1 season-opening victory against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.
The Maple Leafs played sound, puck-possession hockey for most of the night in their first game under Babcock, outshooting the Canadiens 37-30. But that was not enough to please their new coach.
“There’s no moral victories in the NHL,” said Babcock, who signed an eight-year contract with Toronto on May 20 after coaching the Detroit Red Wings for the previous 10 seasons. “You either won or you lost.”
Babcock did win the NHL’s first coach’s challenge. An apparent goal by Montréal defenceman Jeff Petry 6:36 into the second period was negated when it was ruled Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec interfered with Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Video replay showed Plekanec’s stick made incidental contact with Bernier’s head before the puck entered the net.
“I didn’t challenge nothing,” Babcock said. “(Assistant coach Andrew Brewer) yelled in (assistant coach) Jim Hiller’s ear and Jim said, ‘We’re challenging.’ Then they were good enough to put it up on the screen, so I knew by time the ref got over there we’d win it.”
Galchenyuk snapped a rebound past Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier to break a 1-1 tie. Pacioretty, who scored 3:09 into the game, hit the empty net with 30.8 seconds remaining.
The Maple Leafs opened the game with a flurry, getting the first five shots on goal. But it was the Canadiens who took a 1-0 lead when Pacioretty, playing his 400th NHL game, took his team’s first shot. Bernier got a piece of the puck, but it trickled over the goal line.
Brad Boyes had a good opportunity to get the Maple Leafs even when he broke in alone on Price at 15:10, but he failed to connect on his attempted deke as he was being pestered from behind by Montréal defenceman Tom Gilbert.
Toronto controlled most of the action and outshot Montréal 11-7 in the first period.
“They certainly worked hard,” Montréal forward Brendan Gallagher said. “They made it tough. I think early on in the game we were having trouble with the adjustments they have made in their system.”
Gallagher was penalized 13 seconds into the second period for bumping into Bernier following a play stoppage, and the Maple Leafs tied the game six seconds later. Centre Nazem Kadri directed a slap pass toward the Montréal goal and the puck bounced off left wing James van Riemsdyk’s skate and went past Price.
Each team had 16 shots on goal in the second period.
Montréal had a good chance to regain the lead midway through the third period when David Desharnais took a shot toward an open net with Bernier down and out, but Toronto defenceman Jake Gardiner made a skate save.
Bernier finished with 27 saves.
“We had lots of chances to score,” Babcock said. “In the third period I didn’t like that when we started pushing we got a little carried away at times, but I thought we did a lot of good things structurally. We won a lot of battles. In saying all of that, I’d like us to score better. You’ve got to win games; that’s the bottom line.”
However, against the Canadiens and Price, the reigning Hart Trophy winner as the NHL’s most valuable player last season, a good effort simply wasn’t enough.
“We had good structure and we did a lot of really good things,” Babcock said. “We played hard enough, but we can still get way better. The part I don’t like is when momentum swings are happening in the game and we get carried away one way or the other way. In other words when we turn over one we end up turning over three.”
The Canadiens said they could see the influence of Babcock on his new team.
“It’s a lot like Detroit’s obviously with Babcock coaching them,” Gallagher said. “Their defence does a good job taking away time and space and they really push the line when it comes to interference. It was never easy playing Detroit and I think it’s going to be the same here in Toronto.”
Gallagher said Price was the difference in the game.
“There were certainly times in the game when we were on our heels,” Gallagher said. “We were getting outcompeted and outbattled and we were relying on (Price). We don’t want to do that as often as we did last year. We want to help him out, but there are times every team relies on its best player and tonight we certainly relied on ours.”
MTL GOAL – 03:09 – Pacioretty (Subban)
MTL PEN – 05:11 – Smith-Pelly, roughing
TOR PEN – 05:11 – Komarov, boarding
TOR PEN – 12:17 – Kadri, interference
MTL PEN – 00:13 – Gallagher, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 00:19 – van Riemsdyk (Kadri, Phaneuf)
MTL PEN – 08:11 – Eller, tripping
MTL GOAL – 12:02 – Galchenyuk (Markov, Subban)
MTL PEN – 14:17 – Mitchell, interference
MTL EN GOAL – 19:29 – Pacioretty (Subban, Flynn)
MTL – Price (W, 36-37)
TOR – Bernier (L, 26-28)
SHOTS ON GOAL
MTL – 7+15+7 = 29
TOR – 11+10+10 = 37
MTL – Goaltenders: Mike Condon, Carey Price. Defence: Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin, Tom Gilbert, Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, P.K. Subban (A). Forwards: David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Flynn, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Torrey Mitchell, Max Pacioretty (C), Tomas Plekanec (A), Alexander Semin, Devante Smith-Pelly, Dale Weise.
TOR – Goaltenders: Jonathan Bernier, James Reimer. Defence: Jake Gardiner, Scott Harrington, Matt Hunwick (A), Martin Marincin, Dion Phaneuf (C), Morgan Rielly. Forwards: Mark Arcobello, Brad Boyes, Tyler Bozak (A), Peter Holland, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Joffrey Lupul, Shawn Matthias, P.A. Parenteau, Nick Spaling, James van Riemsdyk, Daniel Winnik.
⭐ Carey Price (MTL)
⭐⭐ Jonathan Bernier (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Alex Galchenyuk (MTL)