MONTREAL – A wild game between the rival Canadiens and Maple Leafs came down to a shootout, where Montreal has been unbeatable this season.
Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez scored as the Canadiens pulled out a 5-4 shootout win after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
Six of Montreal’s seven wins this season have come in overtime or shootouts – including an OT win over the Leafs in the season opener for both teams on Oct. 1 in Toronto.
“Our fans like OT and shootouts I guess,” said Cammalleri. “We didn’t want to give them those two goals.
“The fans were singing ‘Na Na’ (Goodbye) and were ready to go out and enjoy their Saturday night. We’d have liked to hold them off, but the big thing was to get the win.”
The Canadiens led 4-2 midway through the third, but Alexei Ponikarovsky’s second of the game and a last-minute goal from Tomas Kaberle tied it with 54 seconds left in regulation.
Both Montreal shooters beat Vesa Toskala in the shootout, both with wrist shots to the glove side on which he didn’t move. Jaroslav Halak stopped Lee Stempniak and Kaberle in Toronto’s first shootout of the season.
Kaberle added three assists, giving him 13 points in his last five games, including a five-point night against Anaheim on Oct. 26.
Wearing their brightly striped vintage jerseys from 1912-13, the Canadiens got goals from Glen Metropolit, Guillaume Latendresse and Hal Gill in the second period. Roman Hamrlik scored in the third.
Stempniak also scored for Toronto (1-7-4), which ended a five-game road trip with a 1-1-3 record.
Montreal (7-7-0) ended a two-game skid.
“I could throw out all the cliches, but we still have to find a way to win,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson. “Which cliche do you want? We never say die, blah, blah blah? We still need to win.”
Emotions ran high between the rivals and there were frequent shoving matches after whistles but surprisingly no fights between the NHL’s two oldest clubs, although there looked to be a few up in the stands with the usual large group of Toronto fans mixing with the locals.
“That was a rivalry game,” said Cammalleri, a Toronto native. “There was no love lost.
“There were words exchanged that I can’t repeat. There was blood on the ice. There were fights in the seats from what I could see. That’s a rivalry game.”
After a sloppy but uneventful first period, Ponikarovsky knocked in Kaberle’s rebound on a power play 1:12 into the second.
But Metropolit, who has eight points in eight games this season, scored 1:15 later.
Latendresse scored on Tomas Plekanec’s rebound at 12:24 and former Leafs defenceman Gill netted his first since joining Montreal in the summer.
Stempniak closed the gap to 3-2 with 4:44 left in the period on a point shot that beat Halak cleanly.
Hamrlik was at the far post to put in Gomez’s shot just after a power play ended at 9:50 of the third period. It was the 20th goal allowed by Toskala in four starts this season and 23rd in five appearances, although he made 35 saves on the night.
Ponikarovsky scored his second of the game with 3:28 left.
The Leafs called a timeout with one minute remaining and sent out six attackers. Kaberle’s point shot went off Jaroslav Spacek’s skate and slid inside the far post to tie it.
“He’s doing a great job,” Wilson said of Kaberle. “He’s picking up points by the bushel on the power play, which has been pretty good.”
The Leafs went 2 for 7 on the power play and are 9 for 26 with the advantage in their last five games.
Former Canadiens defenceman Mike Komisarek nailed Metropolit with an open-ice hit early in the second period, leading to a melee. The crowd booed loudly each time Komisarek hit the ice. He left Montreal to sign as a free agent in Toronto in the summer.
There was a scoreboard tribute to former Canadiens great Jacques Plante, who became the first goaltender to wear a mask full-time 50 years ago on Sunday.
NOTES: Canadiens winger Matt D’Agostini, checked in the head in Chicago on Friday night, saw a doctor before the game but there was no immediate word on how seriously he is injured. Greg Stewart got back into the lineup after missing 10 games. … Toronto winger Phil Kessel skated Saturday morning, and Wilson said this week he might make his Leafs debut on Tuesday against Tampa Bay. … Ponikarovsky has more career points (25) against Montreal than any other team.