For the Montreal Canadiens, the new season is about trying to get back where they stopped last year and advance a bit. For the Toronto Maple Leafs it’s just about showing any kind of progress. The 4-3 win by Habs thanks to a lucky bounce at the very end of the game was somewhat symbolic to the current state of the rivalry between the two teams.
The Maple Leafs haven’t been to the postseason in all but one of the last nine seasons. They haven’t won a playoff series since 2004. It’s safe to say expectations might not be high (although they always are to a certain degree in Toronto), but the hunger for some success and for the season to start off the right way is growing with every failure. While one regular season game that is decided by a bad bounce isn’t indicative of anything, Toronto need something to get them going.
The Canadiens were outplayed last spring by the New York Rangers in the conference finals, and they didn’t have the most solid of performances in Toronto to open the season at the Air Canada Centre. Still, they were probably slightly better than the Maple Leafs overall, being the more dangerous team in this game, getting a good performance from Carey Price between the goalposts. It was eventually decided by Tomas Plekanec scoring two goals, the last of them taking the right kind of hit.
Plekanec already scored earlier to tie the game at 2-2, but his second goal came with 43 seconds remaining in the game. His shot bounced off of Stuart Percy’s skate, with the lead changing a couple of times in the game. The Canadiens opened the scoring with Max Pacioretty after less than five minutes in, but Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak gave the Maple Leafs the lead to end the first quarter ahead by one goal.
As Dion Phaneuf put it after the game, the Maple Leafs moved well and were active through the first and some of the second period of the game, but didn’t look as lively later on. The loss was caused by a lucky shot for Plekanec, but Toronto didn’t look like a team that was going to hang on for much longer in any case.
Plekanec tied the game in the second period and P.K. Subban gave the Habs a 3-2 after 8:41 in the third period. Morgan Rielly equalized to make it 3-3 with less than three minutes in the game, but Plekanec hit the right skate at the right time in the right position and won a game out of that occurrence to start the 2014-2015 season with a smil.e
We’re a resilient group in here. It doesn’t surprise me that we came right back. It’s even better to win these games when you play the right way, and I thought we did a lot of things well. Still some areas we have to clean up, but I thought executing some new things in our game plan, I thought we did that very, very well today. … We had everybody involved today. Our forwards definitely should feel confident right now with the way they’re putting the puck in the net.