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TORONTO (AP) — John Tavares let out a big sigh of relief during the pregame introductions.The Toronto Maple Leafs did the same thing after an ugly season-opening victory.Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the night at 1:01 of overtime to give Toronto a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.Matthews took a feed from Patrick Marleau off the rush and beat goalie Carey Price high past the blocker.“It was a perfect pass Adidas Matt Calvert Jersey ,” Matthews said. “Patty had me there and I was able to just get it over him.”Tavares scored his first goal for Toronto, but for much of the game, Montreal that had the upper hand as Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen was forced to make 34 saves, including 15 in the third period.“They kind of outworked us,” Matthews said. “A lot we can learn moving forward.”Toronto coach Mike Babcock was happy with the victory, but not how his team got there.“Montreal played with great effort and great structure,” Babcock said. “In the end, we won the game, but we have to work way harder and play way better than we did tonight.”Tavares received a raucous ovation when his name was announced as the final player to come out of the tunnel before puck drop, and seemed relieved to finally be in a game that mattered after so much hype.“It was tremendous,” Tavares said. “To have that type of welcoming from this fanbase and this city is pretty special.”Nazem Kadri had two assists for the Maple Leafs.“They’ve got a lot of players that can move the puck on both sides of their stick,” Price said. “They’ve got a lot of skill up front and they seem to find each other. They’re a pretty good squad.”Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw scored for Montreal Adidas Conor Timmins Jersey , and Price made 23 saves. Max Domi, the son of former Leafs tough guy Tie Domi, had two assists in his first game for the Canadiens.Montreal rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the first NHL player born in the 2000s, picked up an assist. The Finn, who turned 18 in July, also became the second-youngest player in Canadiens’ history to score a point.NOTES: Montreal coach Claude Julien sent a strong message to his team before puck drop by making 30-year-old defenseman Karl Alzner and 35-year-old center Tomas Plekanec healthy scratches. The move ended Alzner’s consecutive games streak at 622, the fourth-most among active players. “They’re never easy decisions,” Julien said. “I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s two things happening there to those players, but I think at the end of the day we’re all mandated to do what’s best for the team first.”UP NEXT:Canadiens: At Pittsburgh on Saturday night.Maple Leafs: Hosts Ottawa on Saturday night. TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Captain Steven Stamkos and high-scoring Nikita Kucherov garner lots of attention. However, the Tampa Bay Lightning are hardly a two-man show.The top seed in the Eastern Conference got early goals from four players – none of them named Stamkos or Kucherov – before holding off the New Jersey Devils for a 5-2 victory Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round series.Ondrej Palat Adidas Ian Cole Jersey , Tyler Johnson and Yanni Gourde scored, helping the Lightning build a 3-0 lead that New Jersey trimmed to one goal before Alex Killorn and Kucherov, who added an empty-netter with 1:12 remaining, finished off the win before a crowd of 19,092.”Not the outcome we wanted,” Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid said ”That’s why it’s a series and not a game.”Taylor Hall scored an unassisted goal off a turnover in the second period, then assisted on Travis Zajac’s power-play goal that trimmed the Devils’ deficit to 3-2 midway through third against Andrei Vasilevskiy, who had 29 saves for Tampa Bay, which held off Boston in the final week of the season for the best record in the East.For the Devils, a shaky opening period was too much to overcome.”I don’t know what happened. That’s the way hockey goes sometimes. Starting on time is a big part of hockey, and especially playoff hockey,” Hall said. ”We have to be a team that’s ready to battle right off the bat and just be aware that they have more than one line; more than Stamkos and Kucherov. They have a lot of dangerous guys and we have to be aware.”The line of Palat Adidas Philipp Grubauer Jersey , Johnson and Brayden Point, matched up against New Jersey’s top line, produced a pair of first-period goals and finished with six points.Killorn’s shot over Kincaid’s glove restored a two-goal lead before Kucherov, who led the Lightning with 100 points this season, ensured there would be no comeback.”I thought we played really well. I thought we played within our structure,” said Johnson, who also had an assist on Palat’s goal. ”You’ve got to give Jersey credit. They pushed in that second period. That third period, I thought we took it back over. `If we continue to play like that, I like our chances this series.”Game 2 is Saturday at Amalie Arena.Tampa Bay beat the Devils for the first time this year. The Devils won all three meetings between the teams during the regular season, with each game decided by one goal.Kinkaid entered his first career playoff game as one of the hottest goalies in the league, going 7-0-1 over his last eight starts to help New Jersey grab its first playoff berth since the Devils reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.The Lightning, on the other hand Adidas Cale Makar Jersey , have been driven all season by failing to make the playoffs last spring after making deep runs previous two years.With Kucherov and Stamkos leading the way, Tampa Bay paced the NHL in scoring and Vasilevskiy set a franchise record and tied for the league lead with 44 victories in his first season as a No. 1 goaltender.But after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015 and coming within one victory of a return trip two years ago, this season ultimately will be judged on whether the Lightning can put together another strong bid to win it all.”Last year was the first year that I missed the playoffs in any league. I’ve never had a long summer like that and that summer felt like forever,” said Johnson, who has 22 goals in 48 career playoff games.”So I’m glad where we’re at right now. I’m excited to be back at this time,” Johnson added. ”It’s the best hockey. It’s the most fun you can play in.”While the Devils did a nice job of containing the high-scoring Kucherov and Stamkos, Palat, Johnson, Killorn and Gourde, who set a Lightning rookie record with 25 goals this season, showed why it’s so difficult to totally shut down Tampa Bay’s offense.The momentum shifted on New Jersey’s first power-play opportunity. Even though the Devils didn’t score, they got off five shots against Vasilevskiy Adidas Adam Clendening Jersey , who weathered the barrage before Hall broke through after Palat turned the puck over in the Lightning zone.”We looked a little bit tentative, a little bit unsure, but I thought we settled into the game, particularly in the second period,” Devils coach John Hynes said. ”I thought the second half of the game was a little more of how we wanted to play. We’ll regroup and we’ll be a better team Saturday.”Notes: Stamkos returned to Tampa Bay’s lineup after missing the final three games of the regular season with a lower body injury. … It’s the third time the Devils and Lightning have met in the playoffs. New Jersey won both previous series, advancing in the 2003 Eastern Conference semifinals in five games and ending a 2007 quarterfinal matchup in six. … Zajac and captain Andy Greene are the only players remaining on New Jersey’s roster from the Devils’ 2012 postseason run.—
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