Canadiens’ Bryan Smolinski and goalie Cristobal Huet combine to stop Toronto captain Mats Sundin tonight at the Bell Centre.
André Ringuette, NHLI via Getty Images
Canadiens’ Mike Komisarek takes Toronto’s Simon Gamache into the boards.
Christinne Muschi, Reuters
Canadiens fans don’t like their team losing. But they like their team losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs perhaps least of all.
Toronto’s Matt Stajan scored on a long shot that appeared to deflect off the stick of Montreal defenceman Mark Streit past goalie Cristobal Huet with 1:34 left to play tonight, giving the Maple Leafs a 3-2 victory.
The Leafs are perfect against the Canadiens after two games this season, having beaten Montreal 4-3 in overtime in the Canadiens’ first game of the year.
Montreal fell to 7-3-0 with the loss, Toronto snapped a two-game losing skid to improve to 6-6-3. And give full credit for the Leafs victory to their goalie, Vesa Toskala, who stopped 32 Canadiens shots.
Huet faced 31 from Toronto shooters and would like to have a couple of them back.
Tomas Kaberle continued his Canadien-killing ways, scoring on the power-play at 1:18 into the first period, Mathieu Dandenault penalized for tripping 44 seconds into the game. Kaberle’s screened shot from 65 feet out found its way past Huet to light up the Maple Leafs fans in the building, and there were plenty of them as usual in the thin-air sections of the Bell Centre.
The Toronto defenceman tore up the Canadiens almost single-handedly last season, scoring four goals and adding eight assists in seven games, and was 9-26-35 lifetime in 41 games against the Habs coming into tonight’s contest.
The Canadiens didn’t get their first shot on goal until 5:13, that a long one by defenceman Patrice Brisebois, and went another seven-plus minutes before registering their second.
A listless Montreal power play amounted to nothing late in the period, two long shots threaded through to Toskala by Streit.
But some industrious work by the Canadiens’ fourth line finally tied it up, Dandenault feeding the puck out of the Toronto corner back to defenceman Mike Komisarek. The latter’s 65-footer through traffic eluded Toskala at 16:46.
It briefly appeared that the Canadiens had the lead about 75 seconds later when they put the puck behind Toskala on a wild scrum, but a review of the play denied the score, the net ruled to have first been knocked off its magnets.
Toronto outshot the Canadiens 12-7 through the first 20 minutes after being up 11-1 at one point.
Montreal was gifted with a two-man advantage early in the second period, given 1:02 of 5-on-3. They didn’t need it all; Christopher Higgins bagged his sixth of the season at 2:33, snapping the rebound of an Andrei Markov slap shot past Toskala. Toronto captain Mats Sundin, first in the penalty box, was six seconds away from returning, Boyd Devereaux still off.
But the Leafs tied it at 6:04 on an innocent-looking play, Sundin circling the net and throwing it out front. His pass, intended for Alexei Ponikarovsky, hit Dandenault’s skate and richocheted behind Huet.
The Canadiens’ 17-12 edge in shots tied the teams in that department at 24-24 after two periods.
Montreal has an off-ice workout scheduled for Sunday with an optional on-ice workout before closing out their four-game homestand Monday, the Buffalo Sabres providing the Bell Centre opposition.
GAME-BY-GAME SCORING AND GOALTENDING
RECENT CANADIENS GAMES:
Last 5: 4-0-1 Last 10: 6-2-2
5-2 W – Nov. 1 vs Philadelphia
Unbeaten in regulation time in their last six games, the Canadiens scored four unanswered goals over the second and third period to defeat the Flyers 5-2. With its highest total of the season, Montreal outshot Philadelphia 41-19 as Tom Kostopoulos scored the game winner midway through the second period. It was the right winger’s first tally in a Canadiens’ uniform. Saku Koivu led both teams with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating while Steve Bégin and Mike Komisarek delivered 7 and 5 hits.
3-2 L in SO – Oct. 30 vs Atlanta
The Canadiens collected a 9th point in their last five contests following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Atlanta Thrashers. The first three goals of the games by Alex Kovalev, Éric Perrin and Vyacheslav Kozlov were all scored unassisted. Christopher Higgins’ goal late in the third forced overtime but Atlanta’s Kovalchuk tallied the game winner in the third round of the shootout.
4-3 W – Oct. 27 @ Pittsburgh
The Canadiens earned a fourth consecutive win and a second in as many days by defeating the Penguins 4-3 on a shootout goal by Andrei Markov. The defenseman was the eighth Montreal player to face Pittsburgh’s Dany Sabourin (who had replaced M.A Fleury) in the longest Canadiens’ shootout ever. Rookie goaltender Carey Price stopped all eight Pittsburgh players he faced in the shootout to collect his second win of the season. Price had previously defeated the same Pittsburgh Penguins, Oct. 10 in Pennsylvania.
7-4 W – Oct. 26 @ Carolina.
The Canadiens’ offensive outburst continued in Carolina in a 7-4 win as Montreal tied all-time team records for most power-play goals in a period (4) and most power-play goals in a game (5). Tomas Plekanec registered a career high for points with four (2-2) to help the Canadiens earn a second win in Carolina this season. Montreal is the only NHL to team to defeat the Hurricanes this season. Among the 12 players who collected points in the game, both Andrei Markov and Guillaume Latendresse amassed two assists.
6-1 W – Oct. 22 vs Boston
The Canadiens ended Boston’s four-game win streak with a 6-1 victory on Monday. Six different players scored to take the team to a 4-2-2 record. Three skaters had multiple-point games; both Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec collected a pair of helpers while Alex Kovalev scored his fourth of the season, before adding an assist on Patrice Brisebois’ first marker of the season early in the third period. Forward Mikhail Grabovski earned its first NHL goal, set up by Bryan Smolinski who played in a 1,000th NHL game. Cristobal Huet, the game’s first star, stopped 31 of the 32 shots fired at him.
The Canadiens will play the last of a four-game homestand and the fourth game in seven days by hosting the Sabres on Nov. 5. Montreal will then hit the road for a four game road-swing starting in Boston on Nov. 8.
05/11/07 vs Buffalo
08/11/07 @ Boston