MONTREAL (AP)—The Toronto Maple Leafs took advantage of Montreal backup goalie Alex Auld(notes) to get their first goals at the Bell Centre this season. And they kept right on scoring, even after the Canadiens summoned All-Star Carey Price(notes).
Phil Kessel(notes) had two power-play goals and two assists, and Tyler Bozak(notes) had two goals and an assist to lead the surging Maple Leafs to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Kessel also assisted on both of Bozak’s goals on Price as Toronto recovered after blowing an early 3-1 lead, which chased Auld.
Kessel has six goals in five games since snapping a goal drought that reached 14 games following a 3-0 loss in Montreal on Feb. 12.
“He’s turned it on right now and he’s a pretty scary player when he gets going,” Bozak said.
The Maple Leafs improved to 27-27-7, reaching the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 6. Toronto moved up to 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 61 points, one behind Buffalo and four points behind Carolina for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“It’s an exciting time of year,” Reimer said. “We’ve got 19 games left and we’re four points out, creeping closer and closer, so that’s definitely doable.”
Jeff Halpern(notes) and Max Pacioretty(notes) also scored for the Canadiens, who won in Vancouver on Tuesday after losing the first two games of a trip to western Canada, including Sunday’s Heritage Classic outdoor game in Calgary.
The Maple Leafs regained the lead at 4-3 when Bozak scored Toronto’s third power-play goal of the game 8:30 into the second. His second goal of the game, and 10th of the season, 4:26 into the third made it 5-3.
Pacioretty scored with 2:37 remaining to draw Montreal within one.
Price, who made 17 saves, had shut out the Maple Leafs in each of their two previous games at the Bell Centre this season. Auld stopped six shots before leaving after Lebda scored Toronto’s third goal in a row 13:02 in.
“It’s part of the game and any time it happens you’re obviously not happy about it,” said Auld, who started to give Price a rest. “When you start the game you intend on finishing it. Obviously three goals in half a period isn’t what I need to do to help our team.”
The Maple Leafs stormed back with three straight goals to chase Auld.
“I’m not here to criticize referees, they’re human beings, they work hard, they have a hard job to do,” Cammalleri said. “We all make mistakes every night so if they make 90 good calls one night and they make one bad one you can’t get mad at these guys, they’re trying to do a job.
“But the Gionta one, I think even if you asked them, if they were able to watch it, they probably would take that one back.”
Kessel added his 25th goal, his second straight on the power play, at 12:03 to give Toronto a 2-1 lead.
The sold-out crowd of 21,273 cheered when Price replaced Auld and Montreal recovered with two quick power-play goals 20 seconds apart in the second to tie it at 3.
Cammalleri got his first goal in three games since returning from a shoulder injury 3:42 into the second to draw Montreal within 3-2.
NOTES: Lebda had one assist through his first 27 games of the season. … Maple Leafs G Ben Scrivens(notes), who has yet to play in the NHL, backed up Reimer for a third straight game. … The Canadiens acquired defenseman Brent Sopel(notes) and right wing Nigel Dawes(notes) in a trade with Atlanta earlier in the day, sending minor league center Ben Maxwell(notes) and a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to the Thrashers. Sopel did not travel to Montreal for the game. Dawes will report to Hamilton of the AHL.