Montreal Canadiens Rally To Overtime Win in Toronto

Felix SicardCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2009

TORONTO - OCTOBER 1:  Matt Stajan #14 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates away from Scott Gomez #91 of  the Montreal Canadiens in the Maple Leafs' home opener October 1, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens opened their season in Toronto tonight, and a summer that was filled with upheaval and controversy is finally over.

Despite being outshout fourteen to seven in the opening frame, the Habs managed to find themselves in a tie game thanks to Carey Price's solid play in net. Georges Laraque found himself staring down Colton Orr early on, a match-up that is sure to repeat itself as the season rolls along.

Brian Gionta finished a pretty play by Mike Cammalleri at 11:05. The Canadien's play in their own zone wasn't pretty to look at, especially on Hal Gill's blunder behind the net that led to Alexei Ponikarovsky's goal at 14:37 in the first.

In the second period, the Leafs out shot their opponents again, this time by a count of sixteen to six. Carey Price continued to be solid in net, turning aside fifteen of those shots. Even with this disadvantage, the Habs managed again to come out of the storm unscathed.

Travis Moen gave the Habs some hope early in the period, shoveling in a loose puck at 6:38. However, consecutive penalties on Matt D'Agostini (hooking, 8:42) and Paul Mara (holding, 10:09) gave the Leafs an extended power play which allowed Matt Stajan to knot things up by redirecting a point shot from Tomas Kaberle at 10:39.

The third period was up-and-down for the Canadiens. Andrei Markov suffered an injury when his ankle was apparently cut by Carey Price's skate during a scrum around the crease. The Leafs struck early, putting themselves up thee to two with another goal by Matt Stajan, this time a tap in into an open Montreal net at 9:09.

Mike Komisarek's elbowing penalty late in the period proved to be the turning point, as Glen Metropolit tipped in a point shot from Josh Gorges with under five minutes remaining.

The overtime period was all Montreal, and the deal was sealed when Josh Gorges slammed in a rebound from a great individual play from Mike Cammalleri, who came streaming in and nearly put it away himself.

While this is a feel-good win for fans, as well as an obviously delighted Jacques Martin, the play in the neutral and defensive zones must improve. Martin's strategy of keeping the shifts short proved to be effective, as the players seemed a step ahead of the Leafs in the latter part of the game.

My pick for the star of the game goes to Carey Price. The young netminder put up a wall and was able to keep the Habs competitive throughout the game. Mike Komisarek seemed to be ready for this one, as he was noticeably physical, and his hit on Brian Gionta was simply dirty and cheap.

While it wasn't perfect, this win bodes well for the coming game on Saturday in Buffalo.