MONTREAL – The Toronto Maple Leafs may never want to play at home again.
Phil Kessel had a goal and two assists and James Reimer made 37 saves for his first shutout of the season to give the Maple Leafs a 6-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, their fourth in a row on the road.
The victory improved the Leafs record to 6-1-0 away from the Air Canada Centre, where they will play the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday in an attempt to improve on their home record of 1-4-0.
"We've got to figure it out now at home," said James van Riemsdyk, who had a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs (7-5-0). "On the road we've been very good and we've got to kind of transfer that over to home ice."
Dion Phaneuf also had a goal and an assist and Leo Komarov scored his first NHL goal for the Maple Leafs, who jumped past the Canadiens (6-4-1) and the Ottawa Senators into fifth in the Eastern Conference.
"As a group we've got to follow this up, continue the way we're playing and keep on building on games like this," Phaneuf said.
Kessel scored in a second game in a row after going without a goal in his first 10 games.
"You guys have been asking me about it for a while, but he's a special player," Phaneuf said of Kessel. "He's scored a lot of goals for a while, consistently. Sometimes they don't go in, but now that they're going in he's a guy who can get hot, so it's nice to see him get another one tonight."
Phaneuf also snapped a drought of his own, scoring his first of the season and getting his first points since the first game, a 2-1 win against these same Canadiens in the same building.
"It felt good," he said. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't."
The Canadiens lost their third straight game (0-2-1) since a 6-2-0 start in the first season behind the bench for coach Michel Therrien, who faces his first mini crisis of the young season.
"That was a bad performance from our club, there's no doubt about that," Therrien said. "We're going to find solutions to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Reimer continued his standout play in goal for the Maple Leafs in his first game in Montreal since suffering a concussion after being hit in the head by Canadiens captain Brian Gionta on Oct. 22, 2011. It was the fourth time in his last five starts that Reimer allowed two or fewer goals.
"I saw 90 percent of the pucks, and the 10 percent I didn't see they were blocking. I thought [the defense] did a great job," Reimer said. "Whenever a goalie gets a shutout, it really has nothing to do with the goalie. It has to do with how the team in front of him works."
With the score out of hand, the game featured a number of dust ups in the third period with three fights, four roughing minors and four 10-minute misconducts handed out by referees Tim Peel and Rob Martell.
Video appeared to show Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski biting the arm of Max Pacioretty during a scrum, Colton Orr just missed making a knee on knee contact with Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, and Toronto coach Randy Carlyle accused Montreal's Brandon Prust of a "cheap shot" on Grabovski.
"It's an emotional game. I thought we had a real good end to this road trip and that's what we're going to focus on," Phaneuf said. "I'm not going to get into the emotions of what happened there."
As ugly as it ended, the game could not have gotten off to a better start for the Maple Leafs thanks to Nikolai Kulemin, who blocked an Andrei Markov shot at the Toronto blue line, beat Markov to the loose puck and then perfectly set up Komarov cutting to the net just 59 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Komarov was not exactly thrilled about his milestone goal afterwards.
"It's just a goal," he said. "I've scored a couple before, too."
Van Riemsdyk was at the root of Toronto's second goal, tipping a John-Michael Liles point shot to force a difficult save by Carey Price, but the rebound went right to Tyler Bozak on the opposite side of the net for his second in as many games and fourth of the season at 6:33.
The Canadiens had made a habit of playing strong first periods this season, coming in to Saturday's game having outscored opponents 11-5 and outshot them 115-76 after 20 minutes, but this was easily their worst start to a game of the season.
"We had a really, really slow start and they beat us with speed," Therrien said. "They were ready to play and we were not ready to play."
Still, down 2-0 the Canadiens remained within striking distance, except the Maple Leafs doubled their lead to 4-0 in the second period despite being outshot 20-7 in the middle frame.
Kessel made a pretty pass out of the corner to a cutting van Riemsdyk to set him up for his team-leading seventh goal of the season at 3:36, and Kessel beat Price with a rather innocent looking shot on a power play at 18:01 to make it 4-0.
The third period was no different as the Maple Leafs tacked on another two goals.
Korbinian Holzer scored his second goal in three games at 4:20 of the third off a rebound of an Orr backhand, and Phaneuf scored on a 5-on-3 power play off a pass from Kessel at 13:15.
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