The Montreal Canadiens fell in their season opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a game over shadowed by a scary injury to newcomer George Parros.
James Van Riemsdyk opened the scoring for the Maple Leafs in the first on a 5 on 3 advantage. JVR took a pass from Dion Phaneuf, and it appeared he was trying to find Tyler Bozak across the crease, but the puck rolled off his stick and trickled between Carey Price’s pads.
The Canadiens were able to answer quickly, when Raphael Diaz made a great heads up play to find Lars Eller. Minutes later, the Canadiens took the lead, when Carl Gunnarson stumbled, which led to a 3 on 1 rush for the Habs EGG line of Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Gallagher and Eller. Lars fed a pass across the ice to Gallagher who made no mistake in finding the back of the net on a one timer.
The Canadiens fell into a bit of penalty trouble in the second period, but it was their power play that would let them down the most. Montreal was 0 for 3 with the man advantage in the period, and allowed Bozak to score a shorthanded goal. Andrei Markov mishandled the puck at the Leafs blue line, and Bozak stole it, raced in alone on Price and beat him over the blocker side to make it 3-2.
Dion Phaneuf had tied the game midway through the second period, after being spotted by Nazem Kadri cruising through the slot. Phaneuf picked up the pass and made no mistake, placing a perfect shot over the glove of Price, and into the top corner of the net.
The game took an ugly turn early in the third period. There was a scrum in Price’s crease involving P.K. Subban, Colton Orr, George Parros, Carter Ashton and Jarred Tinordi among others. Ashton and Tinordi would drop the gloves with Jarred getting the upper hand on the Leaf winger.
Second after that fight started, Parros would step in for Subban, and fight Orr for the second time in the game. The two dropped the gloves early in the second with Parros scoring a close victory. The second fight did not end so well, as Orr would fall, still having Parros hands tied up. When Orr fell he took Parros with him, and Parros fell over top of Orr, and without being able to brace himself, landed chin first on the Bell Center ice. Parros was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher, after remaining down for several minutes. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a concussion, but is talking and coherent according to reports.
The Habs fell into a lull after the injury, and Mason Raymond capitalized, converting on what appeared to be a broken 2 on 1 to give the Leafs the lead for good. Raymond attempted to feed the puck across the front of the net, but Francis Bouillon was able to block the pass. Unfortunately, the puck went right back to Raymond, and with Price heading to the other side of the net, Mason made no mistake sliding it home.
Lars Eller would score his second of the night, and his third point, to make it 4-3 late in the third period. Lars stole the puck from Jake Gardiner in the Canadiens zone, and stormed in on Reimer, beating him with a nifty deke to the short side.
Montreal would apply plenty of pressure in the last two minutes, but were unable to capitalize, or even get a quality chance to tie the game. They moved the puck around the Leafs zone, but were unable to get shots through, and were still trailing when the buzzer sounded.
Price made several excellent saves in this game, and although allowing four goals does not sound good, he played very well in keeping the game close. Price stopped 34 shots in the game, including 15 of 16 first period shots.
We have four days to mull the tough loss to begin the season, as Montreal does not play again until they visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.