Skip to Main Content
game recap

Maple Leafs rally, defeat Canadiens in OT in opener

Rielly wins it at 3:24; Nylander, Tavares each has three points for Toronto

by Dave McCarthy / Independent Correspondent

Rielly wins it in overtime

MTL@TOR: Rielly, Tavares link up for OT winner

Morgan Rielly joins John Tavares on a 2-on-1 and bangs home a one-timer, sealing a 5-4 win for the Maple Leafs in overtime

  • 00:48 •

TORONTO -- Morgan Rielly scored with 1:36 remaining in overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena in the season opener Wednesday.

Rielly took a pass from John Tavares on a 2-on-1 and shot past sprawling goalie Carey Price.

"It was a good game to play in, to watch. Good way to open the year with a win," Rielly said. "They're a good team, they came out and played hard, which is what we expected, so we're happy with the win, obviously. We've got a lot of areas to get better, and we'll talk tomorrow about ways we can improve, but to open with a win, it's always a good feeling."


[WATCH: All Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs highlights]


Rielly's goal came 34 seconds after Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen got across the crease and stopped a one-timer by Tyler Toffoli.

"When a goalie steps up to make a save like that, the boys get fired up," Maple Leafs forward William Nylander said.

Nylander had two goals and an assist, Tavares had a goal and two assists, and Andersen made 28 saves for the Maple Leafs.

"It's the first time playing a game at that tempo," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. "We just had a pretty emotional comeback win for our first game, so I'm not going to get too nitpicky. We'll get better every day."

Video: MTL@TOR: Nylander, Holl team up for one-timer

Josh Anderson scored twice in his Montreal debut, Nick Suzuki and Tomas Tatar each scored a goal, and Price made 29 saves for the Canadiens.

"You never like to lose, but I thought we had started well in the first half of the game and did as good a job you could for the first game," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "We had a lead and were in control, but penalties gave them an opportunity to come back in the game."

Anderson scored his second of the game to give the Canadiens a 4-3 lead at 1:03 of the third period when he cut around Tavares and shot under the arm of Andersen. Anderson was acquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Max Domi and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft on Oct. 6, 2020.

Jimmy Vesey, who was making his debut with the Maple Leafs after signing as a free agent this offseason, tied it 4-4 at 10:33 after Nylander got a turnover by Jonathan Drouin behind Montreal's net.

"That was huge, we were heavy on the forecheck there," Nylander said. "It was a lucky bounce (off the referee), but a nice goal for us to get."

Video: MTL@TOR: Vesey ties it off turnover in 3rd

Suzuki gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at 12:49 of the first period with a power-play goal, and Nylander tied it 1-1 at 15:56.

Anderson made it 2-1 at 19:36 after taking a pass from Drouin at the top of the right face-off circle and shooting past Andersen's blocker.

Tatar scored on a breakaway on the power play at 7:20 of the second period to extend the lead to 3-1. Alexander Romanov had the primary assist on the play in his NHL debut. 

Video: MTL@TOR: Tatar buries PPG on breakaway

Nylander scored with a wrist shot past Price's glove on the power play to make it 3-2 at 18:00. Jason Spezza's assist on the play was his 600th in the NHL in 1,124 games.

Tavares tied it 3-3 at 19:21 when he redirected a pass from Mitchell Marner at the top of the crease during a 5-on-3 power play.

"I think we were the better team. We talked about before the game staying out of the box because that's where they get momentum, and obviously they did tonight," Anderson said. "I think anybody watching the game [knows] we were the better team out there, but we're not going to forget this one. We'll come out next time and play better."

Joe Thornton, who signed a one-year contract with the Maple Leafs as a free agent on Oct. 16, 2020, after playing the previous 15 seasons for the San Jose Sharks, had no points and two shots in 17:30 of ice time.

"Wasn't that fun? Great game. Boys were down early, but we managed to come back and what a great finish that was by [Rielly]," Thornton said. "Hearing my number 97 from St. Thomas, Ontario, announced (before the game), you can't beat that."

Video: Nylander, Rielly help Maple Leafs to 5-4 OT win

View More