Lucas Viveiros | Report
It wasn’t as easy as expected, but the Toronto Maple Leafs kicked off their campaign with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Auston Matthews scored a pair (including the overtime winner) and highly anticipated newcomer, John Tavares notched his first as a Maple Leaf to lead the way at the inaugural game at the newly named Scotiabank Arena.
Frederik Andersen added 34 saves on 36 shots, boasting a .944 saved percentage, which surely is encouraging for the buds to start the season.
Prior to puck drop PA announcer Mike Ross introduced the crowd to this years edition of the Maple Leafs, with the loudest cheers coming when hometown boy John Tavares’ name was called.
Fans were eager to get the season underway, but it didn’t start pretty for the home crowd. Montreal forward Artturi Lehkonen blew by Maple Leafs d-man Ron Hainsey and squeaked one past Fredrik Andersen to open the scoring midway through the opening frame.
The Canadiens gave the Maple Leafs multiple scares throughout the first period, but Frederik Andersen was up to the task and bought time until Toronto was awarded their first power-play of the season courtesy a hooking penalty by Montreal star Jonathan Drouin.
On the man advantage Mike Babcock showed the fans what they had been craving to see, a power-play unit oozing of talent consisting of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Nazem Kadri, Mitch Marner, and Morgan Rielly.
Near the end of the infraction Matthews received a tape to tape pass from Rielly and snapped a bullet of a shot perfectly over goaltender Carey Price’s glove to tie the game at 1’s.
No goals would be added to the scoreboard until under two minutes to go in the middle period when Oakville boy John Tavares made his dream’s as a young boy come true, scoring his first goal as a Toronto Maple Leaf.
On the goal Tavares stopped, cut into the middle of the ice and exposed Habs forward Matthew Peca, sniping a wrister over the blocker of Price, giving the Leafs a 2-1 advantage.
Seconds before the period came to a close Canadiens grinder Andrew Shaw beat Andersen with a one timer from a pass from Max Domi (Leaf fans will remember his father Tie) to level the game once again heading to the third.
The third period would see numerous chances for both teams resulting in nothing to show for it, so opening night would see some overtime action,
About a minute into the extra period veteran Patrick Marleau carried the puck over the Canadiens blue line after a pass from Jake Gardiner, and sent a beautiful saucer pass in front of the Canadiens goal right on the stick of Matthews who made no mistake.
Matthews lifted the puck with ease over the stick of Carey Price who had no chance on the shot.
Next up, the Maple Leafs will host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday evening.
Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m. from Scotiabank Arena, and can be viewed on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
More news from the ice
- The Leafs have now won five straight against the Canadiens
- Leafs defensemen Igor Ozhiganov played in his first career NHL game, registering three hits and two penalty minutes
- Toronto centre Par Lindholm played in his first career NHL game, registering a shot, two hits and two blocked shots
- Nazem Kadri started the season with a pair of assists
Out of town scoreboard
Boston 0 Washington 7
Calgary 2 Vancouver 5
Anaheim 5 San Jose 2
More coverage to follow. Image from Maple Leafs hotstove.