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Tough Third Costs Leafs Against Canadiens

Saturday, 21.01.2012 / 10:59 PM / News
The Canadian Press
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Tough Third Costs Leafs Against Canadiens
TORONTO -- Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens dealt their rival a painful blow.

The Habs goaltender made 32 saves Saturday as Montreal beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in a matchup of two teams trying to make a playoff push.

Toronto entered the night sitting ninth and had fresher legs than the Habs, who lost 5-4 in Pittsburgh on Friday night. But Montreal made the most of its opportunities and pulled within seven points of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.

Rene Bourque, Rafael Diaz and Lars Eller had the goals for Montreal (18-21-9).

Matthew Lombardi replied for the Maple Leafs (23-19-5).

The game was up for grabs heading to the third period but Toronto seemed to come undone while looking for more help from the referees. Diaz put Montreal ahead 2-1 moments after a lengthy delay to repair the glass and Toronto failed to tie the game on a subsequent power play.

Eller delivered the toughest blow by beating Jonas Gustavsson with a high shot at 11:25. The Leafs goalie was incensed the play wasn't blown down after teammate Jake Gardiner had been driven into him by Travis Moen.

From there, Price closed the door as Montreal picked up just its second victory in the last seven games.

Despite the fact the Habs were playing their second game in 24 hours, there was a good pace to the first period. The long-time rivals each flashed speed and intensity in their third meeting of the season.

It took Montreal half a period to register its first shot, but it was a big test for Gustavsson. Eller had a short-handed breakaway from his own end but couldn't beat the Leafs goaltender.

However, the Habs started to come on and Bourque opened the scoring at 18:26 with his first goal since being acquired in a trade from Calgary. He missed the net with a shot but had the puck carom back in front before beating Gustavsson.

There was barely even time for that to be announced at Air Canada Centre before Lombardi tied it. The speedy forward was sent in alone by linemate Tyler Bozak and put a nice deke on Price.

The game slowed a bit during the second period, although both goaltenders were called on to make some good saves. Gustavsson had to deal with a fair bit of traffic but got his glove on a P.K. Subban point shot while Price got his pad on an attempt from Phil Kessel.

Notes: Montreal is 5-9-2 since interim coach Randy Cunneyworth took over last month ... Gustavsson is 10-5-0 in his last 14 starts ... Keith Aulie, Jay Rosehill and Darryl Boyce sat out for Toronto ... The Habs scratched Petteri Nokelainen and Yannick Weber ... Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman watched the game from the press box ... Announced attendance was 19,643.

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