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Montréal
Canadiens
Toronto
Maple Leafs

23 SOG
24 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
MTL
TOR
game recap

Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 1

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:07 AM

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) - The Toronto Maple Leafs finished one difficult stretch of games and were in no hurry to look ahead to the next tough part of the schedule that is quickly coming up.

Phil Kessel and Tomas Kaberle both ended goal droughts, and the Maple Leafs used a strong start to beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Saturday night. That ended a run of five games against the top teams in the Eastern Conference in which Toronto went 3-2.

"You look at the whole week and we essentially did something (no one expected)," coach Ron Wilson said. "I don't think anybody said we were even going to win one of those games. We won three of them, so I'm proud of our team."

The Maple Leafs will be rewarded with a day off Sunday before starting their only trip this season through Western Canada. Wilson said he hadn't started to look at the upcoming stops in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.

"(Sunday) I was going to do my Christmas shopping, that's all I was thinking about," he said. "I was either going as Santa Claus or Scrooge. Lose another game and your Sunday off is kind of miserable. That's really the only thing I was thinking about - not the next few games out west."

The trip should be interesting for Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who will play in his hometown of Edmonton on Tuesday before making his first trip back to Calgary since being traded by the Flames. He's looking forward to Thursday's game at his former home rink.

"I don't know why there would be any negative (reaction)," Phaneuf said. "It wasn't my choice to move. Like I said, I had a lot of great times there and I made a lot of great friends out there. I played a lot of hockey in that building.

"I wouldn't expect negative."

The Maple Leafs have struggled in first periods recently, prompting Wilson to stress the importance of good starts. He finally got one as Toronto scored twice in the opening 20 minutes for the first time since Nov. 13.

It came against the tired Canadiens, who lost 4-2 in Detroit on Friday. They were flat early in a game that was played with an edge. Toronto's Clarke MacArthur won an early one-sided fight against Jaroslav Spacek, who was knocked out of the game.

"It was kind of a slow start, they jumped on us," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "We didn't win enough individual battles."

Kessel and Kris Versteeg also scored for the Maple Leafs (11-14-4).

Mike Cammalleri had the lone goal for Montreal (18-10-2).

However, the speedy winger was left wondering about one that got away after he fired wide on a long breakaway opportunity early in the first period. Wilson said the turnover that led to that play was his team's only mistake in the period.

"It could have been a different game if they scored on that breakaway," Maple Leafs forward Fredrik Sjostrom said.

Because the Canadiens were playing on back-to-back nights, goalie Alex Auld made a rare start in place of usual starter Carey Price. He gave Montreal a chance to win by not allowing a goal in the final 2 1/2 periods.

Montreal pushed hard for the tying goal in the closing minutes, but Maple Leafs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere stood tall. The boos that rained down during Thursday's loss to Philadelphia were replaced by chants of "Go Leafs Go!"

Kessel wasted little time in putting an end to his seven-game goal drought. He charged hard to the net and knocked a loose puck behind Auld at 7:38 of the first period.

"He's putting a lot of pressure on himself," Giguere said of Kessel. "He's our best player. When Phil is playing well - scoring goals and skating like he was tonight - it makes our team a lot more dangerous."

It was just the 11th time in 29 games that the Maple Leafs led 1-0.

Toronto seized some momentum and went ahead 2-0 when Kaberle scored his first goal since March at 10:35.

Montreal seemed to find its legs in the second.

After being held to four shots in the opening 20 minutes, the Canadiens came out with a little more urgency. Cammalleri made it 2-1 at 14:38 with his 10th of the season, beating Giguere high with a shot the goalie appeared to have trouble seeing.

The Maple Leafs regrouped in the final period and kept the Canadiens from mounting a comeback.

"We did what it took to win the game," Phaneuf said. "We were blocking shots, we were getting in the lanes and we were playing hard. We were competing to win puck battles.

"We played hard right from the start and all the way through. We won a big hockey game for our team."

Notes: Kaberle scored for the first time in 35 games. ... Scott Gomez missed his second straight game for Montreal because of a lower body injury. ... Montreal recalled C David Desharnais from AHL Hamilton, but he didn't play. ... The announced attendance was 19,656, the largest crowd at Air Canada Centre this season.

scoring summary
1st Period
07:38
TOR
Phil Kessel (11) Backhand shot - ASST: Tyler Bozak (6), Tomas Kaberle (16)
1 - 0 TOR
10:35
TOR
Tomas Kaberle (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Fredrik Sjostrom (2), Tim Brent (2)
2 - 0 TOR
2nd Period
14:38
MTL
Mike Cammalleri (10) Wrist shot - ASST: Tomas Plekanec (17), Andrei Kostitsyn (11)
2 - 1 TOR
3rd Period
19:22
TOR
EN - Kris Versteeg (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Fredrik Sjostrom (3)
3 - 1 TOR
penalty summary
1st Period
10:59
TOR
Clarke MacArthur  Roughing against  Jaroslav Spacek
10:59
TOR
Clarke MacArthur  Roughing against  Jaroslav Spacek
10:59
MTL
Jaroslav Spacek  Roughing against  Clarke MacArthur
10:59
MTL
Jaroslav Spacek  Roughing against  Clarke MacArthur
16:26
MTL
Jeff Halpern  Interference against  Nazem Kadri
18:30
MTL
Jeff Halpern  Interference against  Carl Gunnarsson
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
00:23
MTL
Roman Hamrlik  Roughing against  Clarke MacArthur
07:11
TOR
Tyler Bozak  Hooking against  Yannick Weber
goalie stats
Alex Auld
SA: 23TOI: 59:44
Saves: 21EV: 14 - 16
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 7
SV%: .913SH: 0 - 0
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
SA: 23TOI: 59:57
Saves: 22EV: 21 - 22
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .957SH: 0 - 0