Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Saturday night’s game between the Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canadas Centre.
TORONTO _ Christmas will be merrier for the Canadiens after they wrapped up the first half of their holiday road trip with a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
“We took the early lead and we didn’t panic after they came back with a goal,” said Max Pacioretty, who opened the scoring at 3:48 of the first period when he combined with Tomas Plekanec on a 2-on-1 break. “We had a little give-and-go there and the defenceman (Dion Phaneuf) took himself out of the play because he wasn’t sure who was going to shoot.”
“He should have known it was going to Patch,” said Plekanec, who scored a third-period goal to give the Canadiens a 4-1 lead.
Travis Moen made it 2-0 when he tipped Andrei Markov’s drive from the point at 4:47. Matt Frattin got that one back for the Leafs at 6:10 but Carey Price was solid the rest of the way, stopping 31 shots to earn the No. 1 star.
“It would have been nice to get the shutout but the important is that we got the win and we’re 2-1 on this trip,” said Price.
Toronto goaltender James Reimer would have been happy to finish the game. He was replaced by Ben Scrivens after Scott Gomez scored at 1:06 of the second period to give Montreal a 3-1 lead. Reimer gave up three goals on only eight shots and clearly wasn’t ready when Gomez shot from a wide angle. Reimer was late reacting on the shot and knocked the puck in off the back of his glove.
“My secret weapon is that nobody expects me to shoot,” said Gomez.
The Canadiens added a couple of insurance goals in the third period. Plekanec battled for position in front and was rewarded when he knocked in a rebound of a shot by Rene Bourque at 9:43. The fourth line chipped in with another goal when Brandon Prust scored at 17:31 with Gomez picking up an assist.
David Desharnais sat out for a fourth consecutive game but coach Michel Therrien said the centre would be in the lineup when the Canadiens resume their travels with a visit to Tampa Bay on Dec. 27.
“He could have played tonight but we figured we’d give him a few extra days of rest,” said Therrien.
The Canadiens play the Florida Panthers on Dec. 28 and wrap up their road trip on New Year’s Eve in Carolina.