Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1
The Canadian Press
December 15, 2007
-- The Montreal Canadiens finally gave their worried fans what they wanted a victory at home, and against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs to boot.
Saku Koivu ended a 12-game scoring drought with a pair of goals as the Canadiens downed the tired-looking Leafs 4-1 on Saturday night.
It ended a six-game home winless streak for Montreal dating from a 7-4 win over Boston on Nov. 17.
``When you don't score and there's a lot of talk about not scoring, getting that first goal was a big relief,'' said Koivu. ``But this was more about getting that win on home ice.
``We played well for 60 minutes and, when you play well defensively, it gives you a chance to win.''
Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Kovalev also scored for Montreal, 16-11-5.
Boyd Devereaux helped the 14-13-6 Leafs avoid being shut out for the first time this season with a goal at 15:54 of the final period.
But worse news for Toronto was that workhorse defenceman Bryan McCabe will likely be lost for at least six weeks after breaking three bones in his left hand midway through the third period after falling awkwardly into the boards after a check from Andrei Kostitsyn.
Toronto coach Paul Maurice was livid, saying Kostitsyn horse-collared McCabe and threw him into the boards.
``He's too good a player to miss that much time after a (expletive) play like that,'' he said.
Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau countered that he watched the play on video and ``there was nothing wrong with it.''
The Leafs looked lifeless after playing in Atlanta on Friday night, a 4-0 victory to start a seven-game string of road games.
They outshot Montreal 29-25, but Price had only a handful of difficult saves to improve his record to 3-0 against Toronto.
His bid for a first career shutout ended when Devereaux, just out of the penalty box, came down the off wing and fooled him with a medium-speed wrist shot. It was a second goal in as many games for Devereaux and his fifth of the season.
When asked about losing the shutout, the 20-year-old Price used a common French-Canadian swear word, then quickly added, ``don't write that down.''
``It's tough, but I'd rather get the win than anything else. It's nice to win one at home.''
Even the screaming Leafs contingent among the 21,273 spectators could not breathe life into their team, which lost for only the second time in eight games.
Goalie Vesa Toskala allowed more than two goals in a game for the first time in that stretch.
``We looked like we played last night,'' said Maurice. ``We just weren't really sharp.
``We didn't move the puck really well or get in front of the net. It wasn't great.''
Koivu agreed that his team caught a break.
``Sometimes the schedule works to your advantage,'' he said. ``We didn't see the best Toronto.''
``But we got a win at home and hopefully now we get something going here.''
The left Montreal 6-6-4 at the Bell Centre, while Toronto is now 7-7-1 away from the Air Canada Centre.
Koivu caught a break to end his goalless run, backhanding the puck to the front of the net and seeing it go in off defenceman Hal Gill's skate 9:03 into the game. Sergei Kostitsyn got his first NHL point on the play.
``I saw Sergei in front and I thought if I just put it in there, something might happen,'' said Koivu.
The Canadiens captain struck again 3:09 into the second frame when he stopped a Chris Higgins pass with his skate and beat Toskala on the forehand. Defenceman Francis Bouillon got his first point of the season on that play.
Andrei Kostitsyn made it 3-0 at 11:17 when he deflected Mike Komisarek
's point shot in from the slot. Kostitsyn got his third goal in four games and extended his points streak to five games.
With McCabe lying injured on the ice, Kovalev was able to go in alone and see the rebound of his shot go in off Tomas Kaberle
8:32 into the third.
A few rough-looking Canadiens fans were ejected from the arena in the third period for throwing beer onto the Leafs from directly behind their bench.
Notes: Michael Ryder returned for Montreal after sitting out a game as a healthy scratch to replace Guillaume Latendresse, out with an uppper body injury. . . With goaltender Cristobal Huet's return from a pulled groin, Jaroslav Halak was returned to AHL Hamilton. . . John Pohl sat out a fourth straight game for Toronto.
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