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Canadiens 6, Maple Leafs 2

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MONTREAL (AP) -The Montreal Canadiens got the start they needed.

Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and two assists, and Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves in Montreal's 6-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Patrice Brisebois assisted on each of the Canadiens' three first-period goals - by Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre and Guillaume Latendresse.

"We needed a great start," Lapierre said. "We played last night and we knew they were going to be ready so we just kept it simple, put the puck at the net and that's what happened, we got the two points."

Alex Kovalev scored his 11th goal 6:20 into the second to put the Canadiens up by three, and Andrei Kostitsyn scored his 12th at 18:53 to make it 5-1 just moments after Toronto's Dominic Moore shot wide of a wide open net on a short-handed opportunity.

Max Pacioretty scored Montreal's sixth goal in the third against Curtis Joseph, who replaced Vesa Toskala to begin the period.

Halak made his fourth straight start in place of Carey Price, sidelined by a lower-body injury.

"Everyone played so well and Jaro made the big saves," Brisebois said. "It's a huge two points and it's fun. We're playing great hockey right now."

The Canadiens, fresh from a 6-2 road win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, extended their winning streak to three. Montreal is 8-1-1 since a season-high three-game losing streak.

"We're playing well right now," Latendresse said. "Everybody's confident, we're playing hard and we knew that if we started well we would have control of the game."

Tomas Kaberle and Matt Stajan scored for the Maple Leafs, who have lost six of eight after a season-best 5-1-0 run.

"They're a good hockey team and we knew they were going to come out hard from the drop of the puck," forward Jason Blake said. "We just have to find a way inside this room to make sure that we're ready for the hockey game when warmups come and the drop of the puck comes."

Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski pushed away linesman Scott Cherrey and kicked his helmet after the official fell on top of Grabovski while separating him from Sergei Kostitsyn during a skirmish late in the third.

Grabovski, who acknowledged that his actions might bring league sanctions, raised his arms to the jeering Bell Centre crowd as he left the ice.

"Five seconds in my head - I don't know what happened," said Grabovski, who was traded by Montreal to Toronto on July 3.

Brad May, acquired in a trade with Anaheim on Wednesday, made his Maple Leafs debut and fought with Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon 11:13 into the second. That bout came 2 seconds after Toronto's Jamal Mayers squared off with Tom Kostopoulos.

Toskala stopped 16 of 21 shots overall in the first and second. Joseph made seven saves in the third.

Sergei Kostitsyn scored the first of Montreal's two power-play goals in the game when he put a rebound of Brisebois' shot into a wide open net 2:35 in.

Lapierre made it a 2-0 lead with his eighth goal at 4:59, but Kaberle drove a slap shot from the right point past Halak on a power play at 7:55 to draw the Maple Leafs within 2-1.

Latendresse scored his seventh at 19:03 to restore the Canadiens' two-goal lead.

Notes: Jean Beliveau, recently taken to hospital after a drop in blood pressure, drew a standing ovation when he was introduced during a pregame ceremony honoring the Toronto-Montreal rivalry. Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Wendel Clark and Felix Potvin represented the Maple Leafs along with former Canadiens Phil Goyette, Guy Lapointe, Peter Mahovlich, Steve Shutt and Vincent Damphousse. ... Canadiens D Yannick Weber made his NHL debut as a forward on Montreal's fourth line. He also played the right point on the power play.

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