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Alex Tanguay gets four points as Montreal hammers the Leafs 6-1

NHL.com @NHL

TORONTO - That's more like what Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey had in mind when he assembled his team over the summer.

Newcomer Alex Tanguay had a goal and three assists Saturday as Montreal hammered the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 to register the first win of its centennial season.

Sergei Kostitsyn scored twice and added an assist while Roman Hamrlik, Alex Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse also had goals for the Canadiens (1-0-1). Captain Saku Koivu added three assists.

Jason Blake replied for Toronto (1-1-0).

Montreal opened its season with a 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo on Friday but looked a lot better just 24 hours later.

The game got blown open early in the second period. The Canadiens scored three power-play goals - two off Kostitsyn's stick, the other from Tanguay - during a stretch of five minutes 28 seconds to take a 5-0 lead.

New Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson has repeatedly preached the importance of staying out of the penalty box so he couldn't have been very happy while watching his players take penalty after penalty.

Kostitsyn's second goal of the night at 8:18 of the second period came with Toronto defenceman Luke Schenn serving a delay of game penalty. Like many of his teammates, the 18-year-old rookie had a tougher time during his second NHL game than in Thursday's season-opening victory in Detroit.

Overall, the Habs and Leafs gave performances more in line with pre-season predictions than they did in their respective openers. Montreal is considered an Eastern Conference favourite after adding Tanguay and Robert Lang to a lineup that won the conference last season.

Its speed and skill was on full display at Air Canada Centre.

The teams traded chances early in the first period before the Canadiens started to take control. Hamrlik and Kovalev beat Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala just 99 seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead at 12:39 of the first period and Montreal was off and running.

After Montreal added the three quick power-play goals in the second period, Habs starting goalie Jaroslav Halak had all the cushion he needed. Blake got the Leafs on the scoreboard with a power-play goal at 11:02 of the second, but Latendresse replied for Montreal only 22 seconds later to make it 6-1.

It was clear then that an unlikely comeback wasn't in the offing. Wilson mercifully replaced Toskala with backup Curtis Joseph to start the third period and the 41-year-old managed to stop Kostitsyn on a clear breakaway to keep him from getting the hat trick.

Joseph later made a blocker save on Kovalev after he got in on a breakaway of his own. It only kept the score a bit closer and that didn't deter the many jersey-clad Montreal fans in the building.

They sang their traditional "Ole! Ole! Ole!" song in the closing minutes.

Notes: Announced attendance was 19,370 ...Twenty Canadian medallists from the Beijing Olympics took part in the ceremonial puck drop ... Chris Higgins (groin), Georges Laraque (groin) and Francis Bouillon (knee) each missed a second straight game for Montreal ... Toronto's Jeff Finger (foot) and Ryan Hollweg (suspension) also sat out ... Habs forward Tom Kostopoulos played his 300th NHL game ...The teams split eight regular-season meetings last season ... Under the NHL's new schedule format, they'll only face each other six times this year ... It was just the fourth time Toronto has faced Montreal in its home opener since 1970.

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