1. On offence
Talk about a charmed start for Leafs centre Tim Brent. Pencilled in as Toronto's third-line, checking centre after a surprise showing in camp, the minor-league veteran from Cambridge, Ont., took the opening faceoff and then opened the scoring six minutes later, tipping captain Dion Phaneuf's point shot into the top corner for his second NHL goal.
Phil Kessel made it 2-0 two minutes later, sneaking in behind the Habs defence on a breakaway after a nifty pass from Tyler Bozak and beating Carey Price on a deke. Montreal got back to within one a few minutes later when Dustin Boyd picked off Carl Gunnarsson's pass behind the net and quickly put it past an unsuspecting Jean-Sébastien Giguère.
That was all of the scoring in the game's first 40 minutes, setting up an entertaining third period.
2. Turning Point
One minute and 36 seconds into the final frame, Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur - who had been having a quiet game to that point - turned a loose puck along the side boards into a pretty goal when he danced around a defender and beat Price with a backhand. Canadiens blueliner Jaroslav Spacek (and to a lesser extent winger Andrei Kostitsyn) ended up wearing the goat horns on the goal, as he was caught flatfooted on the play.
The Canadiens responded 52 seconds later to make it 3-2 when Jeff Halpern whacked in a lose puck after a scramble in front, but it was MacArthur's first goal in his first game as a Leaf that eventually stood up as the winner.
3. Coaches' corner
Leafs coach Ron Wilson stuck with a few strategies he had been testing out in training camp and in preseason on Thursday, including using his shutdown line of Brent, Fredrik Sjostrom and Colby Armstrong against the Canadiens' top scoring unit with Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez. Toronto's trio won't score often but mostly got the job done in terms of limiting Montreal's offensive players to few chances.
Another interesting Wilson move was to have Phaneuf parked in front of Price on the power play, a new look for Toronto's man advantage designed to make it less predictable than last season when it was the league's worst.
4. Key Stat
.929 - Giguère's save percentage on Thursday in a terrific performance to start the year, including two game-saving stops near the buzzer. Giguère has a career save percentage of .913, a figure significantly higher than the .892 team save percentage the Leafs posted last season (and which was ultimately a big reason for their 29th-place finish). If Giguère can maintain his career average in 50 starts this season, that alone would mean roughly 30 fewer goals against than an .892 save percentage would, based on the 29.8 shots against Toronto allowed per game last season.
5. Roster watch
Only six players who skated in the Leafs' season opener a year ago played in Thursday night's game, including two of the 12 forwards. Mikhail Grabovski, Colton Orr, Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin and Luke Schenn were all involved in a 4-3 overtime loss against Montreal on Oct. 1, 2009, the start of an eight-game losing streak to open the year.
Five other players made their Leafs debuts Thursday: Kris Versteeg, MacArthur, Armstrong, Mike Zigomanis and Mike Brown. Lars Eller, Boyd, Halpern and Alex Picard played their first games as Habs.