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Canadiens rue missed first-period chances in 2-0 loss to Maple Leafs

TORONTO - The Montreal Canadiens did everything but score in the first period of their season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Their lack of finishing would come back to haunt them.

Matthew Lombardi scored a short-handed goal shortly after the first intermission, and the Maple Leafs went on to beat the Canadians 2-0 Thursday.

Lombardi's goal came 33 seconds into the second period after Montreal dominated Toronto over the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Leafs 14-4.

"You got to be careful going into an intermission after a first period like that," said Canadians forward Mike Cammalleri, who played nearly 22 minutes. "You got to remind yourself it's a 0-0 game. You get the sense that we're having such a good game and we can't lose. But all of a suddenly they get a goal and then it's an uphill battle."

Dion Phaneuf had the other goal for Toronto.

It was the second year in a row Montreal goaltender Carey Price was outduelled by a Maple Leafs' netminder to start the season. Last year it was Jean-Sebastien Giguere who beat Price 3-2 in the season opener between the two clubs. This year, it was James Reimer with 32 saves for the shutout.

Cammalleri didn't fault Price, nor did he believe Reimer was the difference.

"I'm not a big fan of giving goalies credit," he said. "(Reimer) obviously played well, but we could've put some pucks in too."

Lombardi's goal deflated the Canadiens bench, and the players never recovered.

"We had a real strong first period where we had several good scoring chances," said head coach Jacques Martin. "But once they got the short-handed goal, we got away from playing our game and they took advantage of it."

Montreal went 0-for-6 on the power play and centre Tomas Plekanec played a team-high 6:02 with the man advantage, but the club simply couldn't get anything going.

"We just stopped playing," Plekanec said. "It happens. You get scored on, but you got to stay positive and just keep going and stick with it. You got to stop and regroup."

The Leafs played a strong defensive game and Reimer was solid in net for the Leafs, but Montreal captain Brian Gionta thought it was a game the Canadiens gave away.

"They've got good players over there and they play hard," Gionta said. "But tonight it was more about us."

The Canadiens play next in Winnipeg on Sunday in the first regular season game of the Jets’return to the NHL. The Habs then head back to Montreal for six of their next seven at the Bell Centre.



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