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Leafs Season Starts With A Win

Thursday, 06.10.2011 / 11:18 PM / News
The Canadian Press
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Leafs Season Starts With A Win
TORONTO -- Matthew Lombardi scored in his first game in almost a year and James Reimer picked up right where he left off as the Toronto Maple Leafs got their season off to a winning start.

Reimer stopped all 32 shots he faced and Lombardi provided the only offence Toronto needed in a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Dion Phaneuf had the other goal for the Leafs, who also opened last season with a victory over Montreal.

The hockey wasn't any prettier than what was on display during the exhibition schedule that preceded it, with the Leafs looking particularly unsure and disorganized during the first period.

They were bailed out on a couple occasions by Reimer, who registered his fourth career shutout. He made a nice early stop on a low shot from Max Pacioretty and denied a P.K. Subban one-timer, getting a fortunate break when the rebound was swept off the post and out.

Montreal held a 13-4 shots advantage through 20 minutes.

Lombardi made it 1-0 with a short-handed goal just 33 seconds into the second period. After he and Mike Brown came in on a 2-on-1, Lombardi swooped around the net and knocked the loose puck past Carey Price.

The veteran centre was playing his first regular season game in 358 days after missing almost all of last season with a concussion and pumped his fist enthusiastically.

The goal gave Toronto a lift but it was unable to beat Price on three subsequent power plays during the period. The Canadiens goaltender also came up big early in the third period when Joffrey Lupul was left alone in front, getting his glove on a point-blank chance to keep it 1-0.

Phaneuf finally gave the Leafs the insurance goal they needed by taking a Phil Kessel pass on the rush and hammering a one-timer past Price's glove at 4:42.

Montreal was soon awarded another power play, its fourth of the night, but Reimer shut the door again. His nicest stop came on a Tomas Plekanec point shot that got through heavy traffic.

Fans at the Air Canada Centre cheered wildly as time ticked off the clock for a Toronto victory that was low on style points. Coach Ron Wilson wasn't expecting anything less with a patchwork lineup that included forward David Steckel, who was acquired in a trade from New Jersey on Tuesday and did a fine job in the faceoff circle.

``We're still going to be a work in progress,'' Wilson said at Thursday's morning skate.

Notes: It was the 709th meeting between the teams dating back to 1917 ... Montreal defenceman Chris Campoli left with a lower-body injury during the second period and didn't return ... The Habs were without Andrei Markov (knee), Blair Betts (lower body), Lars Eller (shoulder) and Alexei Emelin (healthy scratch) ... Tim Connolly (upper body), Nazem Kadri (knee), Clarke MacArthur (suspension), Colton Orr (healthy scratch) and Cody Franson (healthy scratch) sat out for Toronto ... Announced attendance was 19,606. ... Steckel earned the third star in his Toronto debut.
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