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Pacioretty leads Habs past Leafs

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty's goal-scoring resurgence continued against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist to help lead the Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

"They got the best of us the first game of the year," Pacioretty said. "We had a lot to prove. We've got some momentum right now and it's a good feeling that everyone contributed tonight."

Center Tomas Plekanec and defenseman P.K. Subban also scored for Montreal (15-9-3), which is 7-1-2 in its last 10 games.

Goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves.

Left wingers James van Riemsdyk and Mason Raymond scored for Toronto (14-10-3), which has struggled in November after opening the season with a strong October.

"We're having good spurts but we're not putting together 60 minutes. We've got to figure out how to create more opportunities, feed off of good opportunities and, ultimately, get leads and run with them," Raymond said.

Pacioretty opened the scoring on the power play just 58 seconds into the first on a breakout pass from defenseman P.K. Subban deep in the Montreal end. Pacioretty, alone at the Toronto blue line, skated in alone on Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier and, after his first few shots were saved, finally got the puck into the back of the net.

Toronto thought it tied the game just over five minutes into the frame when defenseman Dion Phaneuf's point shot beat a screened Price, but the goal was waved off by referee Chris Rooney for goaltender interference.

"It's a long year so you're always going to hit some adversity. You've just got to respond the right way," van Riemsdyk said. "We're just going to have to dig in here and just get back to basics and go from there."

Subban doubled Montreal's lead late in the first on some quick work off the faceoff. Center David Desharnais won the draw and dished it off quickly to Pacioretty, who sent it to Subban at the point. The Canadiens' blue-liner moved shiftily into the high slot for his fourth of the season.

"(You always want to) get out to a good start and I think tonight is more important because with a rivalry like that and what happened here the last time we played them," Pacioretty said of the season opener, which the Canadiens lost 4-3. "We wanted to show them right away that we're a different team than we showed them last time so the strong start helped us a lot."

Plekanec added to the Canadiens' total at 15:05 of the second when left winger Daniel Briere found him with a cross-ice pass in the right circle.

Pacioretty scored his second of the night just over two minutes later when he beat Maple Leafs rookie defenseman Morgan Rielly along the boards and broke in on Bernier for a short-handed marker.

"For him, when he's confident he's obviously one of our best forwards," said Subban. "There's a reason he's been leading our team in scoring for the last couple of years. He can do it all; he's big, he can skate, he's physical, he can shoot the puck. (He has) probably one of the hardest wristers in the league. When he's confident and playing like that, it's a big boost for our team."

The visitors finally got on the board at 18:10 of the second period when van Riemsdyk, stationed to the right of the net at the Canadiens' goal line, roofed a nifty shot over Price for his 12th of the year.

Raymond made it a game just 22 seconds later from a similar spot with a bigger opening.

Bernier made 35 saves for Toronto.

NOTES: Toronto D Cody Franson left warm-ups early with a lower-body injury and did not play while C Peter Holland and LW Frazer McLaren were healthy scratches. ... Montreal scratched C Ryan White, LW Michael Bournival and D Francis Bouillon. ... Canadiens RW George Parros and Maple Leafs RW Colton Orr renewed acquaintances with a fight in the second period. Parros missed 12 games with a concussion suffered after his chin hit the ice following a fight with Orr in the season opener between the two clubs. ... Maple Leafs RW Phil Kessel played in his 42nd career game against Montreal, the most of any player on Toronto's roster.
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