Montreal, QC – Ben Scrivens posted 21 saves to help the Toronto Maple Leafs take a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in the season- opener for both clubs on Saturday.
Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri each scored a goal for the Maple Leafs, who finished fourth in the Northeast Division last season and missed the playoffs for a seventh straight year to extend a franchise record. Phil Kessel assisted on both goals.
"It was great out there tonight," said Scrivens. "I was fortunate to play a game out here last year, and the atmosphere was outstanding again this year. It's great to see the fans come back and support us. We all know that hockey is not the same without fan support."
Brian Gionta scored the lone goal for the Canadiens, who placed both last in the Northeast and the Eastern Conference last season to snap a string of four straight playoff appearances. Carey Price gave up both goals on 26 shots in the loss.
"We came out a little bit slow," said Gionta. "We took some penalties because we weren't moving our feet. But we started to come into our own in the third and started to get some pressure. But we just ran out of time."
Both teams hired new general managers in the offseason, as Montreal brought in Marc Bergevin to take over for Pierre Gauthier shortly after last season concluded, while Toronto fired Brian Burke right after the lockout ended and replaced him with Dave Nonis.
The Canadiens also saw the debut of new head coach Michel Therrien, who took over for interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth. Montreal replaced Jacques Martin with Cunneyworth after 32 games last season.
The Leafs got on the board just 4:51 in on the power play. Kessel held the puck at the left boards and fired a hard pass to the slot for Kadri, who took a stride to his left before snapping the puck in.
Again on the man-advantage in the second period, Toronto made it a 2-0 game when Kessel blasted a shot on net from the slot that was stopped, but Bozak was there to shoot in the rebound 8:12 into the frame.
The score stayed that way until Gionta got Montreal on the board with a power- play goal, a stuff-in of a rebound from in front with 6:09 to play.
That was as close as it got, though, as the Leafs' defense and Scrivens were able to preserve the lead.
Toronto hosts Buffalo on Monday ... Montreal hosts Florida on Tuesday ... Each team won three times in the series last season ... Toronto went 2-for-5 on the power play, while Montreal was 1-for-5.