TORONTO -- Revenge was sweet for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens avenged a 6-0 home loss to Toronto on Feb. 9 by dominating the Maple Leafs for 60 minutes in a 5-2 victory at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night. Max Pacioretty scored twice as Montreal improved to 7-0-2 since that embarrassing loss.
Brendan Gallagher's tip-in of Josh Gorges' shot 9:08 into the third period broke a 2-2 deadlock. Pacioretty scored his second of the night with 5:34 to play, and Brian Gionta added an unassisted goal with 2:26 remaining to seal a crucial victory after the Canadiens had dropped their first two games of their season series to Toronto.
"It was an important game for us, the Maple Leafs played two terrific games at the Bell Centre and we knew we had to bounce back," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "We were controlling our emotions… right from the get go I thought our guys were ready, we set the tone for that game."
Montreal was clearly the more dominant team throughout the game, even though the score was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes. The Canadiens stifled the Maple Leafs at every opportunity and by the midway point of the second period, they were outshooting the Leafs 22-5.
Gallagher gave the Canadiens a lead they would not relinquish after David Desharnais won a draw and got the puck to Gorges for a point shot. The Maple Leafs were unhappy with the play because their center, Tyler Bozak, didn't have his stick on the ice when linesman Jean Morin dropped the puck.
The Canadiens defenseman initially thought the play might be whistled dead but his hockey instincts told him to put the puck on net – and it paid off.
"[Desharnais] is down, ready to take the draw and we are all getting set and right as they drop the puck. Bozak stood up and I thought for a second – I'm going to get this puck and he [the referee] is going to blow it [dead]," Gorges said. "He didn't blow it so I figured just throw it toward the net. Gallagher made a great play getting to the front of the net and [made a] good tip."
Pacioretty made it a two-goal gave by beating Ben Scrivens high to the short side from well inside the right circle. Gionta's goal drew cheers from the sizeable number of Canadiens fans who made the trip.
"We were flat, flat, flat, flat," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "It looked like at times that we were playing in our boots and they were playing on skates.
"We just didn't get anything going for ourselves. I don't think there's any way to paint it pretty."
Pacioretty put the Canadiens ahead 2-1 with his first of the night at 4:17 of the second period, six seconds before a five-minute power play expired. Montreal got the long power play when Mike Brown was called for a checking from behind major and a game misconduct for a hit on Gorges.
Gorges, who finished the game with 20:10 of ice time and a plus-1 rating, looked shaken up as he described the play on which Brown barreled into him.
"It's in that danger zone, four feet from the boards, and it caught me in a position where I couldn't do anything," Gorges said. "I knew he was there, no question and I wasn't trying to turn into it – he just caught me and I am lucky I kind of went hip first instead of head first."
Pacioretty almost scored early into the long power play but missed an open net. He made up for it in the final seconds when Scrivens stopped P.K Subban's shot, only to have the rebound hit Pacioretty's shin pads and land in the net.
Scrivens did his best to keep his team in the game, making a huge save on Gallagher on a 2-on-1 a few minutes later. He finished with 35 saves, while Montreal's Carey Price stopped 21 shots -- including a penalty shot awarded to Mikhail Grabovski at 11:45 of the middle period when the Toronto center was hauled down by Alexei Emelin on a semi-breakaway. Price smoothly turned away Grabovski's forehand deke.
"I thought we were controlling the play for the majority of the game," said Price, who earned his League-high 11th victory. "I thought we got what we deserved, we kind of stuck to what we were doing and it kind of worked out for us. It was a game we definitely wanted to win -- they got four points on us and come the end of this one we needed to make up a little bit. I think it was kind of a mental hurdle we got over."
Clarke MacArthur evened the score at 2-2 at 15:47, finishing off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Cody Franson and Nazem Kadri for his fifth goal of the season. Kadri now has a three-game point streak and leads the team in scoring with 18 points.
The teams traded goals through the first 20 minutes, although the Canadiens carried the play.
Toronto capitalized on a good forecheck and a lucky bounce to open the scoring. Frazer McLaren had the puck go off his body and behind Price as he bore down on the Canadiens crease, going between Subban and Travis Moen. Brown started the play by following his dump-in and nailing Gorges in the corner; the puck then squirted out to McLaren, who scored his second of the season at 13:44.
Emelin tied the game at 16:56 during a delayed penalty call. The Russian defenseman took a pass near the blue line and moved into the high slot before zipping a low shot through traffic that beat Scrivens for his first goal of the season.
There was plenty of physical play to satiate the capacity crowd in the first period. One of the most notable of the 31 total hits was when McLaren sent Moen into the broadcast area between the benches. It was one of 20 hits by the Maple Leafs in the period.
"They tried to be physical with us but I was not afraid of that - because there is a lot of character in that dressing room," Therrien said.
Montreal got in on the action as well, as former Maple Leaf Colby Armstrong laid a solid check on Michael Kostka deep in Toronto's zone.
Newly acquired Michael Ryder played right wing on a line with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk in his first game since being traded from Dallas on Tuesday. He saw 14:34 of ice time and was minus-1.
"I just found out when I came to the rink before the game [that I would be playing with those guys], they had the lines on board," Ryder said. "I said just talk to me out there and help me out with the system. We did well, we had the one goal against but stuff like that happens. We did a lot of good things and it can only get better
Ryder skated out with his familiar No. 73 jersey that he has worn throughout this career. Earlier in the day Gallagher gave up the number to the veteran forward and now sports No. 11.