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Rookie Scrivens delivers in Maple Leafs' victory over Canadiens

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- Ben Scrivens repayed the Toronto Maple Leafs' confidence in him with a winning effort that got their season off on the right foot.

Phil Kessel assisted on power-play goals by Nazem Qadri and Tyler Bozak, and Scrivens made 21 saves to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Qadri scored 4:51 in and Bozak put Toronto up 2-0 with the Maple Leaf's second straight power-play goal at 8:12 of the second period.

Scrivens, who drew the season-opening start over James Reimer, came within 6:09 of his first NHL shutout.

"Benny was really good," Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "He was square to the puck. When we gave up shots he was there to control the rebounds into the corners. He was really solid tonight and I was really happy for him to get that win.

"We didn't know who was starting and we're confident in both of our goalies, but Benny played extremely well and it showed on the scoreboard, and it showed in his play."

The 26-year-old rookie went 4-5-2 with a 3.12 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage in 12 games with Toronto last season.

"I was fortunate enough to play a game here at the Bell Centre last year and the atmosphere was outstanding again tonight," Scrivens said. "It's great to see the fans come back and support. We all know hockey's not the same without fan support. I know those aren't our home fans but it's still great to see a packed arena and the fans having fun out there."

Brian Gionta drew Montreal within one with a power-play goal 13:51 into the third. The Canadiens captain put a rebound past Scrivens from the goalmouth.

Carey Price made 24 saves in his fifth straight season-opening start for Montreal.

"Every time you lose the battle of special teams it's tough to win, and tonight we lost that battle," said Montreal coach Michel Therrien, who got a long and loud ovation when he was introduced prior to the game as he began his second stint behind the Canadiens' bench.

Price stopped Kessel's shot on a scoring chance just over one minute into the third.

"Phil can score goals," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "If he continues to get chances like that, he's going to score goals."

Former Maple Leafs forward Colby Armstrong acknowledged that the Canadiens got off to a rough start.

"Obviously the first 40 minutes I think we weren't going together out there," said Armstrong, who signed a one-year, $1-million free agent contract with Montreal after spending the last two seasons in Toronto. "You saw a lot of times guys skating up the ice by themselves and no puck support. We made it pretty easy on them with breakouts and transition."

James van Riemsdyk made his Maple Leafs debut. The American forward was acquired from Philadelphia in a June 23, 2012 trade for Luke Schenn.

NOTES: The Maple Leafs and the Canadiens have opened each of the last four seasons against each other, the previous three in Toronto. ... LW Clarke MacArthur and RW Joffrey Lupul were named Maple Leafs alternate captains earlier on Saturday. ... Mike Kostka got an assist on Nazem Kadri's goal for his first point in his NHL debut for Toronto. The 27-year-old Kostka played 341 games in the American Hockey League. ... Former Montreal captains Yvan Cournoyer, Henri Richard, Vincent Damphousse and Serge Savard passed a torch from the top of the arena to ice level, where Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau handed it off to current captain Brian Gionta for the team's pre-game introductions. ... Alex Galchenyuk, who was chosen third overall by the Canadiens in the June 2012 draft, played left wing on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Gionta. ... Montreal opened its season at home for the first time in 14 years. The Canadiens lost 4-1 to the Maple Leafs on Oct. 2, 1999.
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