MONTREAL -- The Toronto Maple Leafs avoided their first losing streak of the season, while the Montreal Canadiens continued their historic one.
Mikhail Grabovski haunted his former team by scoring the winner 1:23 into overtime as the Leafs extended the Canadiens' misery by beating them 5-4 on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens loss, albeit in overtime, leaves them without a win at home in four tries and with only one win after seven games for the first time since 1941, when it took them 13 games to get their second win.
The overtime loss also leaves the Habs (1-4-2) dead last in the Eastern Conference standings.
Still, coach Jacques Martin insists it is not yet time to panic -- although he admitted the rough start is concerning.
"We recognize it," Martin said. "But the important thing is to continue working and try to get a win, and then string some wins together."
At the other end of the spectrum, the Leafs are off to a fabulous 5-1-1 start and quickly snuffed out the bad memory of a 6-2 thumping they took at the hands of the Boston Bruins in their first road game
of the season on Thursday night.
"We played hard all game," Grabovski said. "It was a good game for both teams. But for us, we try to win every game and keep going. We lost against Boston and we tried to win tonight. We listened to what the coach said to us and we played hard and we won."
Grabovski pulled a beautiful move on the overtime winner, coming out from behind the Canadiens net and beating Carey Price with a shot to the far post as he was spinning around for his fourth goal of the season.
"It felt good," he said. "I had my family here in town today from Toronto and I'm happy for them because they came and saw how we won the game and I scored the winning goal."
David Steckel, Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and Nikolai Kulemin also scored for the Leafs (5-1-1). However the news was not all good for Toronto as goalie James Reimer did not come out for the second period and was replaced by backup Jonas Gustavsson after making nine saves on 10 shots through 20 minutes.
Reimer’s mask was knocked off and he looked to be woozy when Brian Gionta hit him in the head while crossing in front of him at 1:15 of the first. The play was not whistled down as the puck went back towards the Montreal zone, but when the Canadiens touched up for the goaltender interference penalty on Gionta, Reimer looked to be laboring.
He allowed a shorthanded goal to Travis Moen on a partial breakaway 36 seconds after the penalty, but stopped the next eight Canadiens shots. "He just didn’t feel right," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said, adding he had "no idea" when Reimer would play next.
Gustavsson, who allowed six goals on 43 shots in Toronto’s lone regulation loss of the season in Boston, gave up a goal on the first shot he saw in the second – a laser beam wrist shot by Andrei
Kostitsyn 29 seconds in that gave the Canadiens a very temporary 2-1 lead. Gustavsson, who surrendered six goals in Boston on Thursday, gave up three on 18 shots in two-plus periods of work to get the win.
"I don't remember for the next seven or eight minutes Montreal even getting a shot, so we tightened up and helped the Monster get settled," Wilson said. "It was probably two or three minutes that he
even knew he was going in, because we fully expected that James was going to be all right, so he might have been caught off guard a bit."
Price was denied his 100th career win in his fifth attempt, allowing five goals on 27 shots.
But forward Lars Eller said the team let their goaltender down, much as they have all season, as Price’s save percentage continues to plummet.
"It’s not like us to give that many chances against, I think Carey stood on his head," said Eller, who had two assists and was a plus-3. "It’s not like us. I can’t recognize us in our own zone right now.
We’re usually a lot better than this. I can’t give you an explanation why, we need to look at the video and look for solutions and then go out there and do it. I don’t think it’s for a lack of motivation or
lack of trying, I think everybody means well and works hard, but certain things are just not done the right way right now."
Michael Cammalleri also scored and Moen added another for the reeling Canadiens, who host the Florida Panthers on Monday night before entering a tough stretch of three games against the Flyers and a home-and-home with the Boston Bruins.
"We have to be positive, that’s all you can do," Moen said. "We’ve got a big week coming up and we need some wins. We need a little more desperation in our game, and if we do that we should be fine."
The Leafs bounced back quickly in the second after falling behind 2-1 on Kostitsyn’s goal. Just 36 seconds later, Kessel picked Gorges’ pocket coming out from behind the Canadiens net and scored his eighth of the season at 1:05 before Phaneuf's power-play goal at 4:19 put them up 3-2.
Just as they did in the second, the Canadiens scored on their first shot of the third when Cammalleri blasted one from the left circle over Gustavsson’s glove at 1:27 for his second of the season, and Moen
gave Montreal the lead 4-3 when he tipped a Gorges shot from the half boards home at 9:28.
That Moen goal came moments after Price made a miraculous save when he reached back with his paddle to pull a Joffrey Lupul shot off the goal line.
But the Canadiens lead was short-lived once again as Kulemin poked one home off a scramble in front at 13:07 to make it 4-4 and send it to overtime.