Post Game Thread: Leafs earn early bragging rights with 3-2 win

After a drawn out, and poorly put together opening ceremony, the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs opened their 2010-11 NHL season Thursday night.

Anyone remember how the Habs players said they needed to play better in front of Carey Price this season?

Well it didn't happen tonight. It could be argued that the Canadiens defensive mindset, missing Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik, watched the opening ceremony and fell asleep, because they were just awful.

Price, recovering from the flu, made 22 saves in the losing effort and came up big when needed, especially on a late third period penalty kill to keep his team in the game.

Unfortunately for the Montreal offense the Leafs Jean-Sebastien Giguere was equally big in the closing seconds of the game to preserve the win, with a 26 save night.

The home team took advantage of turnovers and poor coverage to take a two goal lead, and never looked back.

Tim Brent, left unchecked, tipped in a Dion Phaneuf shot after Tomas Plekanec failed to clear the puck up the boards at 6:42 of the first period. Price had no chance as Brent was left unchecked by Ryan O'Byrne and Alexandre Picard.

Habs defenseman Hal Gill was then caught pinching allowing Phil Kessel to get a breakaway on Price, managing to push it under the outstretched pad of the Canadiens netminder at 8:57.

The Canadiens goalie, seldom one to call out his teammates, felt his team played well enough in front of him. "We did a lot of things right, they got a couple good breaks and it came down right to the very end," he said.

The Canadiens got on the board when newcomer Dustin Boyd capitalized on a Leafs turnover and whacked it in, on his second attempt, at 12:19. He's already equaled the career Habs output of the last player to wear No. 17, Georges Laraque.

After a scoreless second period, Clarke MacArthur skated in off the left side past Andrei Kostitsyn and Jaroslav Spacek to beat Price at 1:36, giving the Leafs a two-goal lead. Jeff Halpern cashed a loose puck at 2:28 to get Montreal back within one.

The Habs power play was also a major case of misfire, missing the injured Markov and Mike Cammalleri, who will return from his one game suspension, going 0 for 3.

"We were working hard, but at times we gotta make better decisions with the puck," said Habs defenseman P.K. Subban. "We did a lot of good things, but we can regroup and build off of that."

The Canadiens had a flurry of activity in front of Giguere, but the Leafs netminder played like his '07 Smythe Trophy winning form, stopping Habs captain Brian Gionta twice in the closing seconds.

One of the bright spots for the Habs was the NHL debut of winger Lars Eller, who played a solid 16:27 despite going -2. First period gaff aside, Tomas Plekanec also appears to be in mid-season form, making a valiant one-man effort on the late penalty kill, and throwing four hits along the way.

The Canadiens next head to Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in their new igloo.

Three Stars: 1. J.S. Giguere 2. Dustin Boyd 3. Clarke MacArthur

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