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(Saturday, March 22nd)
Final Score: Montreal 4, Toronto 3
Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - Tomas Plekanec scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and the Montreal Canadiens held on for a 4-3 win over the scuffling Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Max Pacioretty, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta also scored for the Canadiens, who won for the fourth time in five games and remained No. 4 in the Eastern Conference. They extended their lead to five points over Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.
"That's a huge game," said Gionta. "Them right on our heels, it's a four-point swing."
Carey Price made 33 saves for Montreal and James Reimer made 32 for the Maple Leafs.
Toronto -- clinging to a playoff position -- is 0-4 with Reimer in net since starting goalie Jonathan Bernier went down with a groin injury on March 13 in Los Angeles.
Some good news for the Maple Leafs? Center Dave Bolland played his first game since suffering a severed tendon in his ankle on Nov. 2 and coach Randy Carlyle said Bernier would travel with the team to play the Devils on Sunday.
"I felt great," said Bolland. "I felt good with everything that was going on out there."
Bolland had one shot in nine minutes and Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri scored Toronto's goals.
"We win and lose as a team," said Carlyle. "The work ethic of our group has been strong. Our execution is the area we need to get better at."
Lupul also had an assist, moving the puck side-to-side behind the net on a power play and finding Kadri with a sharp pass that his teammate one-timed over Price's blocker to tie the score 2:49 into the third period.
But Plekanec gave Montreal the lead back with a sharp-angle goal on the right side that slipped in between Reimer and the near post with 8:46 remaining. Andrei Markov got the assist, faking a shot and passing to Plekanec from the slot.
Earlier, Pacioretty gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead 5:47 into the game on a one- timer from the slot after David Desharnais picked up a neutral zone turnover from the Leafs and slipped a pass to his teammate from the left boards.
Bourque made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later with a wrist shot from the left circle.
Toronto responded, getting its first goal on Lupul's one-timer from the right circle at 11:02 of the first period.
After Bozak tied the score at 18:03 following a Montreal turnover, the Canadiens regained the lead when Gionta's shot got past Reimer after it hit off defenseman Tim Gleason's waist-high stick in front.
Bourque and Gionta each had two points ... The teams split their first four meetings this season ... The Canadiens play at Boston on Monday.
03/22 22:55:20 ET
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