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Game Recap: Montreal Canadiens 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs 1

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The Maple Leafs kicked off their season with a close loss vs the Canadiens.

LOOK! LOOK! THEY'RE SALUTING! NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON
LOOK! LOOK! THEY'RE SALUTING! NOW SHUT UP ABOUT IT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 48th Highlanders. A new smoke bomb, machine, thing. A big ass scoreboard showing a kick ass montage from @B0undless.

This is how the Maple Leafs began their first season under Mike Babcock.

The Game

The period opened fast and strong with the Leafs owning the first couple minutes, getting five shots on the board within 2:30. After Price made a save on Lupul the Habs took possession and raced back down to the Leafs end, and Max Pacioretty scored his first goal as captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

Minutes later Leo Komarov took down PK Subban and was issued 2 minutes for boarding on that call. A scrum occurred and Devante Smith-Pelly as give two for roughing. At 4 on 4 Montreal took more shots and the Leafs were left with only one shot on goal for over ten minutes after Montreal scored.

There were plenty of blocked shots and the Leafs were certainly playing a better defensive game under Babcock (SSS I know) but the first ended 1-0.

To start the second the Canadiens rushed the net and Gallagher was given 2:00 for interference. Six seconds into the power play the JVR scored and tied the game at one each.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">net cam view of JvR goal <a href="http://t.co/qfHtrklseV">pic.twitter.com/qfHtrklseV</a></p>&mdash; Stephanie (@myregularface) <a href="https://twitter.com/myregularface/status/651916638393106433">October 8, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Lots of back and forth throughout the period, both teams committing to blocking shots and defensive play. Surprisingly, to this writer the Leafs looked more like the well practiced team, despite having higher turnover.

At 6:36 into the period history was made. The Canadiens scored a goal but Mike Babcock called for a coach's challenge. As the referees made their review, it was clear that Bernier was struck by a Canadiens stick before the goal was scored. The referees agreed and waived off the goal.

The third period was marked by lots of stoppages, and at 12:02 Alex Galchenyuk scored off his own rebound and made it 2-1 Canadiens.

With five minutes left the Leafs were given a chance to tie it up on an interference power play, a great barrage of sticks at Price made it close but Price acted like the reigning MVP he is and kept the puck out.

At the 18:00 mark Bernier was pulled from the net and gave the Leafs an extra attacker. The puck was sent to the Leafs end a few times, and Lupul and JvR had close calls on a game tying goal. Babcock called a time out with just less than a minute left in the game, but it was not to be. Pacioretty would get the puck off the face off and take it down for an easy empty net tap in. The Canadiens would take this game 3-1.

Thoughts

I'm not surprised the Leafs had more shots than the Canadiens. They played well as a team and I think long term with Babcock we'll see a positive possession rate and an increase in shots on goal from this team. I was disappointed with the first goal, but who isn't with trickle-ins?

The Leafs are back in action Friday night in Detroit, as Mike Babcock makes his return.