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Canadiens vs Maple Leafs Game Recap: Pacioretty powers streaking Habs to a win over Toronto

Ending a very, very long streak of futility against the Leafs at the Bell Centre might be the best feeling win of the season, because no matter how bad the Leafs are, the Habs usually find a way to lose. But not last night.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

It didn't take long for Montreal to take control, with Max Pacioretty drawing a penalty from Carl Gunnarsson, and P.K.Subban springing him for a four-shot breakaway that eventually resulted in a 1-0 lead just 58 seconds in.

The Canadiens never really looked back from there, though they did go into lead protection mode for most of the game, especially for the few shifts after the goal.

Subban had other ideas in mind though, and after David Desharnais won an offensive zone faceoff to Pacioretty, Max gave it to Subban, who evaded a half-hearted check from Phil Kessel and ripped a quick shot over Jonathan Bernier's shoulder to take a lead the Habs would never relinquish.

A fantastic shift from Brian Gionta and Danny Briere, alongside the brilliant hockey sense of Subban, resulted in Tomas Plekanec being set up for his team leading 9th goal of the season (tying Brendan Gallagher), and Pacioretty soon joined him atop the team with his ninth, a shorthanded tally followed by a celebration that made Randy Carlyle's head implode.

The Maple Leafs briefly got back in it after a ridiculous goal by James Van Riemsdyk and a lucky bounce for Mason Raymond, but for the remainder of the game Carey Price and the Habs shut them down.

Price rallied off another spectacular night, his seventh straight quality start, and 15th of the season in just 21 games. He now sits alone atop the save percentage column for starting goaltenders with a .937 save percentage, though he's still slightly behind Josh Harding at even strength.

Speaking of excellent performances, how about David Desharnais? Yes, Pacioretty and Gallagher are carrying him, but the play he's providing now compared to the what he was doing at the beginning of the year is night and day. I counted five excellent defensive plays by Desharnais in the game, and when is the last time we could say that? He was also excellent on the forecheck, and managed to outbattle Dion Phaneuf several times. I'm still not sure of his place on this team going forward, but if he can maintain this kind of effort, it doesn't matter as much when he doesn't produce points.

And how about Douglas Murray last night? He didn't really make any spectacular plays, but he limited mistakes and played within himself, which is exactly what he needs to do. Murray had his best game as a Canadien last night, and to top things off, he crushed Kadri with a big hit.

Speaking of Kadri, for the second straight game against the Habs, he was essentially invisible. His single shot in 16 minutes worth of ice time wasn't memorable, but after his messy contract negotiations over the summer, maybe he'd just rather be on the other side of this rivalry.

We should also talk a little bit about Tomas Plekanec, once again leading all Habs forwards in points with 18, on pace for his regular 55 points over 82 games, while playing possibly the toughest minutes in the NHL.

Stephan Cooper noted last night that according to Extra Skater, Plekanec takes on the third highest quality of competition in the NHL among centers, and starts the 17th fewest percentage of his shifts in the offensive zone. Plekanec has kind of gone under the radar this season, but he's done possibly the toughest work of his career so far this season, and he's playing fantastic.

The Canadiens closed out Movember with a 7-1-2 run, and after a back-to-back against New Jersey, it's time to reignite the rivalry with Boston.