TORONTO -- Paul Byron scored shorthanded to break a tie in the third period, and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
Carey Price made 35 saves in his first NHL start since April 19 after missing the final 13 regular-season games with a concussion for the Canadiens, who are the No. 4 seed in the Scotia North Division.
"That was Carey Price for you, he was an absolute wall tonight," Montreal forward Josh Anderson said. "He loves playing in these big games and in these positions. When it gets to the playoffs, you have to bring it to another level and I think Carey and everyone did that tonight."
Jack Campbell made 28 saves in his first Stanley Cup Playoff start, and William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs, the No. 1 seed.
"We believe in each other," Campbell said. "Our offense is a weapon for our team, but Price made some great saves and it just didn't go our way tonight. I believe in these guys. We all believe in each other and we will be ready to go next game."
Maple Leafs captain John Tavares left the ice on a stretcher with 9:31 remaining in the first period. Tavares was hit in the face by the knee of Canadiens forward Corey Perry as he was falling after being checked by Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot.
"I've experienced a lot of different things, a whole lot of tough injuries and stuff like that in my time as a player and as a coach, but in an empty building like that, that was probably the most uncomfortable situation that I've been a part of on the ice," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "It was tough to get through. Our players were rattled and concerned."
Video: MTL@TOR, Gm1: Tavares exits with injury in Game 1
Keefe said Tavares was conscious, communicating well and that tests so far have come back clear, but that the center will remain in the hospital overnight for further tests.
Teams that win Game 1 are 490-222 (68.8 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including 7-1 in the first round last season.
Game 2 is here Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Montreal is facing Toronto in a playoff series for the first time since 1979; the Canadiens have won nine in a row against the Maple Leafs in the postseason.
Byron shielded Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin from the puck then shot it past Campbell, who attempted a poke check, to give the Canadiens the lead at 12:44 of the third.
"He's a feisty player," Price said. "He battles in practice. He's always doing that in practice. He's a finisher and I'm happy for him."
Price made a blocker save on Mitchell Marner, who one-timed a pass from Nylander on a 2-on-1, at 9:38 of the third to keep the game tied.
"I was just trying to read and react and cover the low, as one wise man once told me," Price said.
Toronto was 0-for-4 on the power play, including an opportunity at 16:42 of the third period when Phillip Danault took a minor penalty for tripping.
The Maple Leafs were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
"The penalties, let's be honest, it's playoff time, you can't just give teams life by giving them power plays," Toronto forward Nick Foligno said. "It was a really choppy game, nobody gets a feel for it and it takes away from what we are good at, which is being a 5-on-5 team and being dangerous holding on to pucks. It seemed like we were parading to the box. We have to find a way to get our offensive flow going."
Video: MTL@TOR, Gm1: Anderson buries a wrister on the rush
Anderson put Montreal up 1-0 at 12:08 of the first period after taking a pass from Eric Staal and splitting the two defensemen, Sandin and Zach Bogosian, before shooting past Campbell's glove.
The Maple Leafs tied it 1-1 at 4:28 of the second period when Nylander put in a loose puck at the side of the net on a rebound from Morgan Rielly's point shot.
"We were solid from start to finish," Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. "There's always ups and downs in the game. I thought our second period was a little bit slower, and Carey did a great job tonight, he was solid. I thought as a team tonight we were pretty consistent on both sides of the puck and that's the type of game that we want to play."
NOTES: Canadiens forward Jake Evans left after the second period with an undisclosed injury. Ducharme said he doesn't think the injury will keep Evans out "too long," but did not have a timeline on his return. … Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman played 24:37 after missing the final 11 regular-season games with a sprained MCL. He was minus-1 with four shots on goal.
Video: Byron's shorthanded goal propels Canadiens in Game 1