Leafs Shut Out Habs - Leafs vs Canadiens Recap
The Toronto Maple Leafs opened up the 2011-2012 with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Montreal Canadiens. After being completely dominated in the first period by the Habs (the Leafs were outshot 14-4 in the frame), Matthew Lombardi put the Leafs ahead early in the second period with a shorthanded goal. The goal was Lombardi's first as a Leaf. Lombardi was playing in his first regular season game since October 13, 2010, and the goal seemed to wake up the listless Leafs. Dion Phaneuf earned an assist on Lombardi's marker after creating havoc in front of Carey Price. Phaneuf wired home a one-timer early in the third for the Leafs other goal. Phil Kessel laid the puck off perfectly for Phaneuf's unstoppable blast.
James Reimer made 32 saves for the Leafs to earn the shutout. He was peppered in the first by the Canadiens, but both Reimer and the Leafs bent but didn't break under the Habs pressure. Dave Steckel was a force in the faceoff dot all night prompting Ron Wilson to admit he has not had a weapon like Steckel in his time as Leafs coach.
Both Lombardi's goal and the Leafs physicality turned the tide in this game. Mike Komisarek, Luke Schenn and Phaneuf pushed the smaller Canadiens around for the final two periods on the night. Komisarek had a strong game, and played maybe his best game as a Leaf tonight. Penalty killing has been a major weakness for the Leafs the last couple of seasons, however led by Steckel, Komisarek, Lombardi, Schenn and Brown the Leafs killed off all five penalties on the night. Without Clarke MacArthur and Tim Connolly the Leafs struggled on the power play going oh for four, including a missed opportunity on a two-man advantage in the second period.
Habs defenseman Chris Campoli left the game in the second period and did not return with a leg injury.
Men of the Match
Leafs: Dion Phaneuf - Logging 23:57 of ice time on the night, and finishing with a goal and an assist, the Leafs captain led the way offensively, defensively and physically. If Phaneuf can find his offensive game then the Leafs will be a difficult team to handle this season.
Canadiens: PK Subban - The Habs most important player this season (other than Carey Price) had a strong game on the night, but did make some turnovers. He is head and shoulders above any other Canadiens defenseman, but can he be the rock defensively, while providing the offense from the backend that they need all season? Subban played just under 25 minutes on the night.
The Leafs will host the Ottawa Senators Saturday night at 7:00.
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