MONTREAL - Hometown boy Marco Scandella netted his first as a Hab with 2:33 to go in regulation, setting the stage for Ilya Kovalchuk to hand Montreal a crucial 2-1 overtime win at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
It was Hockey Is For Everyone night at the Bell Centre, celebrating diversity and inclusion in the sport. To mark the occasion, the Canadiens invited young players from different backgrounds from across the province onto the ice for the national anthem.
After going down with a wrist injury back on November 15, Jonathan Drouin made his much-anticipated return to the lineup for the Saturday night classic against Toronto.
Xavier Ouellet also dressed for his first game with Montreal of the season, after being recalled from the Laval Rocket on Thursday.
Hockey royalty was in the house for this one, with Chicago Blackhawks legend and Hall-of-Famer Bobby Hull taking in the game sitting next to Elise Beliveau.
Toronto native Jake Evans was playing his second career game against his hometown team, and got a good shot off on Maple Leafs starter Jack Campbell just past the six-minute mark of the opening frame, but couldn't convert.
The first was a fast-skating period featuring lots of back-and-forth action and intensity befitting of a Habs-Leafs affair - and of a contest featuring two teams just six points apart in the standings - but the score was tied after 20, with each team registering seven shots apiece.
In the second, the Habs ran into a bit of a penalty trouble and gave the Leafs two power play opportunities to Montreal's one, but neither team was able to convert.
On the first penalty kill, Artturi Lehkonen blocked an Auston Matthews shot with his hand and heroically stayed on the ice until the play allowed him to jump off. The Finnish forward headed to the room for treatment, but returned later in the frame.
Carey Price was dialed in and the Leafs outshot the Canadiens 14-4 in the middle frame, but the game remained scoreless after 40 minutes.
Toronto opened the scoring early in the third, with John Tavares getting his 23rd of the season to make it 1-0 just 66 seconds into the frame.
The Canadiens had a chance to tie things up on the power play after the Maple Leafs got caught with too many men on the ice with 8:08 to go in regulation, but couldn't convert on the opportunity.
With 2:33 to go in regulation, however, Marco Scandella sent the Bell Centre into a tizzy when his blast from the point beat found its way through traffic and beat Campbell to tie the game.
It was the Montreal native's first goal as a Hab.
Ouellet and Nate Thompson earned the assists on the marker.
The game went to overtime, where Ilya Kovalchuk picked up the rebound off Nick Suzuki's shot and sealed the deal for Montreal.