The Toronto Maple Leafs put a damper on the Canadiens season opener on Saturday, with a 2-1 victory at the Bell Centre.
Penalties proved costly to the Habs with the Leafs two goals coming on the power play.
The Leafs got on the scoreboard in the first period with a goal by Nazem Kadri and went up by two in the second period when forward Tyler Bozak scored.
The Habs showed more signs of life in the third period. And coach Michel Therrien said he liked the players reaction. “We tried to push the pace and pushed the play. Toronto played really well, too. You’ve got to give them credit.”
“Every time you lose the battle of the special teams it’s tough to win,” Therrien added. “And tonight we lost that battle.”
The Canadiens season-opener began with a torch-passing ceremony and included Habs legend Jean Béliveau, who suffered a stroke last year.
It was 18-year-old Alex Galchenyuk’s first NHL game and he was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd when he was introduced during the pre-game ceremony.
“I thought he looked good,” Therrien said after the game about the Habs first-round draft pick last June. “He didn’t put himself in trouble. He skated well, tried to make some plays.”
“We saw that he’s got the speed to play,” Therrien added.
“I think a lot of guys were pumped up, amped up ready for this game,” said goaltender Carey Price. “I think the body was there, the mind might not have quite been sharp enough.”
Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, who missed a big chunk of last season because of surgery to repair a torn bicep, scored in the third period.
The Leafs outshot the Canadiens 26 to 22.
The Canadiens next game is on Tuesday at the Bell Centre against the Florida Panthers. With the shortened 48-game season, clubs will only play against teams within their conference.
You can hear what Gionta had to say after the game below: