"He won us the game tonight."
Those were the words of Mike Cammalleri commenting on the 43-save performance by Carey Price.
"Carey stood on his head," said Cammalleri. "I just talked to him and said, 'we've got to be better for you and we will.' The truth is that we expect him to do that from time to time because that's how good he is."
Price certainly responded to his critics with a brilliant game while his team was outplayed and outshot by the Leafs in every period. Shots on goal were 46 to 27 for the Leafs.
The praise from his teammates continued, "He was unbelievable." said Josh Gorges. "He held us in there when the game could have gotten out of hand."
Gorges himself had a big game, scoring the winner in overtime after having assisted on the tying goal.
Jacques Martin's game plan was to employ an aggressive forechecking system. For the most part, it was something that the Canadiens were able to execute very well. However, it should be said that the Leafs defense, particularly Ian White and Francois Beauchemin, were awful.
It is the other end of the ice that should cause some concern for the Canadiens. They spent far too much of the game hemmed in their own zone.
Andrei Markov and Jaroslav Spacek will be an effective power-play tandem at the blue line this season. The Canadiens scored two goals with a man advantage.
Hal Gill and Paul Mara were an odd defense pairing. Both are painfully slow which allowed the AHL-caliber Leaf forwards to cycle in the Habs zone.
Josh Gorges seemed well matched with his new defense partner, Ryan O'Byrne. O'Byrne and Gorges blocked a total of nine shots with O'Byrne also registering four hits. O'Byrne was very physical and made good decisions all night.
The Canadiens defense corps were doing a much better job of clearing the front of the net compared to last season.
As for the forwards, Tomas Plekanec played well with two assists. Mike Cammalleri also registered two assists. Brian Gionta had a power-play goal.
Pre-game chatter was all about how the Leafs would run the Canadiens out of the Air Canada Centre. But it was the Habs who outhit the Leafs by a wide margin 37-22.
Travis Moen displayed toughness with three hits and two fights. He also scored his first goal as a Canadien. Moen's linemate Glen Metropolit also played well with the tying goal on the power-play. Metropolit seemed surprised that he got the call for power-play duty. So were we!
Brian Burke has designed the Leafs with "truculence" in mind. Perhaps that could explain Mike Komisarek's game tonight. Maybe he was trying to declare that all loyalties had been severed with the Canadiens. Whatever the reason, Komisarek was in rare form. While his three hits are typical (and admirable) it was stick-work on his opponents that was disturbing and got him into penalty trouble. Two of the Canadiens' goals were scored with Komisarek in the penalty box.
The Canadiens can celebrate a comeback road win, being able to play touch and an impressive performance by Carey Price. The win may be bittersweet, however, as Andrei Markov left the game with a skate-cut to his foot. Markov will be treated in a Toronto hospital and will not travel with the team to Buffalo.
Gomez, Gionta, Pacioretty
Plekanec, Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn
Lapierre, Latendresse, D'Agostini
Metropolit, Moen, Laraque
scratches: Hamrlik, Stewart
Carey Price starts in goal for the Canadiens, Vesa Toskala for the Leafs
Rocket's three stars:
1. Carey Price
2. Matt Stajan
3. Josh Gorges
(photo credit: Getty images)