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Canadiens top Maple Leafs in NHL opener

Oct 9, 2014 - 3:48 AM Toronto, ON ( - Tomas Plekanec had two goals, including the game-winner off a defenseman's skate with 42.9 seconds remaining that gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

The Canadiens, four months and change after losing to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals, snapped a four-year losing streak to the Maple Leafs in season-openers.

Plekanec is one of four alternate captains on the Canadiens, who opted not to pick a new captain after Brian Gionta signed with Buffalo as a free agent.

Two of the other alternate captains scored: fellow forward Max Pacioretty and offensive-minded defenseman P.K. Subban, who signed an eight-year, $72 million contract in the offseason.

Subban's goal 8:41 into the third period put Montreal in front, but he was engaged with winger David Clarkson in the corner when the Maple Leafs tied it on Morgan Rielly's goal at 17:41.

Toronto's Mike Santorelli and Montreal's Lars Eller were tied up in front when Rielly sent the puck on net from a sharp angle on the right side and Canadiens goalie Carey Price let it through.

Plekanec's winner was also fluky. His pass to Alex Galchenyuk from the left side hit rookie Stuart Percy's right skate and got past Jonathan Bernier for the winner.

Price made 24 saves and Bernier had 28 for the Maple Leafs, who also got goals from Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak.

The Maple Leafs, coming off a sixth-place finish in the Atlantic Division, had won each of the last four season-openers against the Canadiens by a combined five goals.

Pacioretty, who had a career-high 39 goals last season, scored just 4:42 into the game after skating around defenseman Dion Phaneuf on the right side to beat Bernier from a sharp angle.

"The first shot they got went in the net. That kind of took a little bit of wind out of our sails," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.

Two rookies got their first NHL points on Toronto's first two goals, giving the hosts a 2-1 lead before the end of the opening period.

Brandon Kozun's wrist shot was deflected in front by Kadri to tie the score, and Percy set up Bozak for a power-play goal after sending an errant pass off the left boards, collecting it himself near the goal line and feeding his teammate in front of the net with 38 seconds left in the opening period.

"I tried to kick it wide to (James van Riemsdyk) but I missed him and luckily it just went to the corner and I made a quick move to the net and saw he was open," said Percy.

Alexei Emelin picked up his second assist of the game for Montreal with a long pass that found Plekanec behind two defenseman, leading to a backhand deke and a 2-2 tie 4:34 into the second period.

David Desharnais worked hard against the end boards to get Subban the puck, spinning to find his teammate near the slot. Subban beat Bernier to the stick side, fitting his wrist shot between the blocker and right pad at 8:41 of the period.

Game Notes

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau also had two assists for Montreal ... The Canadiens continue their season-opening four-game road trip in Washington on Thursday ... The Maple Leafs remain in Toronto to play Pittsburgh on Saturday.