Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens spoiled Mike Babcock’s coaching debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy-winning goalie made 36 saves to help Montreal beat Toronto 3-1 on Wednesday on the first night of the NHL season.
It was the kind of dominance that has become commonplace for Price.
“We’re used to that,” said captain Max Pacioretty, who scored on the team’s first shot of the game and added an empty-netter. “We definitely relied on him a little bit too much tonight, but that’s what we’re used to. He plays that way every night.”
Price was the difference on a night the Leafs carried the play for long stretches and had a 37-30 shots edge. Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner in the third period.
“We obviously would’ve liked to maintain a little bit more offensive-zone pressure,” Price said. “But at the end of the day it worked for us, and we’ll definitely take the win.”
Babcock left the Detroit Red Wings after last season to coach the Maple Leafs. He spent 10 seasons in Detroit, leading the Red Wings to the 2008 Stanley Cup title.
“There’s no moral victories in the NHL,” Babcock said. “You either won or you lost. It’s real simple that way. But obviously the process is there, and they’re trying.”
James van Riemsdyk had a power-play goal for Toronto early in the second period.
“He won the MVP last year for a reason so he’s a tough one to score on,” Van Riemsdyk said about Price. “But we’ve got to stick with that process, and we’ll have some success.”
Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier finished with 27 saves.
“I thought their goaltender was real solid,” Babcock said. “I thought ours was real solid after the first shot.”
Babcock made the first coach’s challenge in NHL history and was successful in overturning a goal.
Babcock challenged Jeff Petry’s apparent goal in the second period, arguing that Tomas Plekanec interfered with Bernier. Referees Frederik L’Ecuyer and Dan O’Rourke looked at the replay by the penalty box at Air Canada Centre and determined Plekanec made incidental contact with Bernier.
Montreal defenceman PK Subban appeared to suffer an injury to his left leg in the third when he was boarded by Leo Komarov. Subban stretched his leg on the bench, tested it several times during stoppages and stayed in the game.
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