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(Tuesday, October 1st)
Final Score: Toronto 4, Montreal 3
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Tyler Bozak scored the go-ahead goal while short-handed late in the second period, and the Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens as the 2013-14 NHL season got underway at Bell Centre.
Mason Raymond tallied the eventual game-winner in the third period, while James van Riemsdyk and Dion Phaneuf also notched goals for the Maple Leafs. Phil Kessel, signed to a reported eight-year, $64-million extension earlier in the day, recorded an assist on van Riemsdyk's power-play marker.
James Reimer made 34 saves to help Toronto fight back from a 2-1 deficit after the opening 20 minutes.
Lars Eller amassed two goals and an assist in a losing cause, with Brendan Gallagher also scoring for Montreal and Alex Galchenyuk registering two assists. Carey Price turned back 34-of-38 shots in defeat.
Down 2-1 at the conclusion of an up-tempo first period, the Maple Leafs forged ahead entering the third after putting up a pair of impressive goals.
Phaneuf began the rally by rocketing a perfectly placed screamer over Price's glove in transition 8:36 into the second period, though Montreal was able to kill off two minor penalties shortly after the goal to keep the game tied.
The Canadiens got a power play of their own with 2:50 left in the middle session when Toronto's Mark Fraser was sent off for interference on top of fighting Travis Moen. It was the Leafs who capitalized, however, as Bozak stole the puck away from Andrei Markov and lifted a shot underneath Price's right arm on a breakaway for a 3-2 lead.
"Tonight our special teams were the difference in the game," said Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle. "The short-handed goal turned everything in our favor."
Another good defensive play enabled the Maple Leafs to extend the margin in the third period. Troy Bodie blocked a shot attempt by Montreal's Francois Bouillon to bring about a 2-on-1 between Raymond and Dave Bolland. Raymond's initial pass was deflected, but the puck carried right back to his stick and he fired a wrister into the net at the 5:10 mark of the frame.
Raymond's score came less than three minutes after Montreal enforcer George Parros was carried off the ice in a stretcher after landing face-first when taken down by Toronto's Colton Orr during a fight. Parros sustained a concussion from the fall and was transported to a nearby hospital.
"It's not easy after that incident to get back into the game, but we tried to use that as fuel to get another goal," said Eller.
That they did, courtesy of Eller. The Dane blew past the Toronto defense while skating up the left side and beat Reimer stick-side with 2:35 left to play.
Montreal got off just one more shot the rest of the way, however.
"There were some encouraging things, but we took too many penalties in the second [period]," said Eller. "I think that's where we lost the game."
The Canadiens hurt themselves with penalties early on, handing the Maple Leafs a 5-on-3 advantage for more than a minute on a pair of infractions, including a double-minor to Tomas Plekanec for a high stick on Joffrey Lupul. Less than a minute later, Kessel moved the puck from the left point to an awaiting van Riemsdyk camped out near the right post, with the Toronto forward sliding a shot underneath Price with 8:01 elapsed for the first goal of the NHL season.
A boarding call on Phaneuf not long afterward created a 4-on-4 situation, however, and Montreal drew even when Eller flicked a centering feed from Raphael Diaz midway through the opening period.
Eller set up the Habs' next score with a cross-ice pass on an odd-man rush to Gallagher, who one-timed it home from the left side 6:06 prior to the first intermission.
Both Parros and Orr received game misconducts for their fight ... Eller recorded his fourth career multi-goal game and first since a two-goal effort against Washington on April 9 of last season ... Toronto has now won in three straight and six of its last seven visits to the Bell Centre ... Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson served the first of a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation during a preseason clash against Buffalo on Sept. 22 ... Montreal went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Toronto ended 1- for-7 in such situations.
10/01 23:19:33 ET