#TBT: Montreal Meltdown

On TLN, this new feature of #TBT or “Throwback Thursday” as the kids call it, will showcase some of the highlights (and occasionally lowlights) of the Leafs’ history. 

This week we’re taking a look at the Leafs’ 6-0 destruction of the Habs in Montreal on February 9th of the 2013 lockout-shortened season. It was the first game I’d ever attended at the Bell Centre, so it definitely holds a special place in my heart.

The Rundown

The Leafs were entering this game with a great early-season road record (5-1-0) and had just disposed of the Jets in Winnipeg a couple nights before. They’d already taken down the Canadiens once in the season opener on January 19th (again, lockout), but this game would be much more of a statement, with plenty of drama along the way. The layoff from the lockout, coupled with a decent start which had both teams in playoff spots, meant the place was ready to explode. The teams would wind up combining for 116 penalty minutes, most of which were dished out in the third period when Grabovski (allegedly) bit some guy and Colton Orr did his best impression of Max Rockatansky.

First Period

Fun story: I was sitting in the 300s waiting for the game to start and Mike Keenan was walking up the stairs. No one else in my section really said anything so in typical Newfoundlander fashion I said “Whatta y’at Iron Mike?” and he shook my hand and said “Nice to see you out tonight” even though he obviously didn’t have a clue who I was. Anyway, I sat down just in time for the Leafs to open the scoring; Komarov from Kulemin, 59 seconds in.

Just five minutes later Bozak would put the Leafs up 2-0. Reimer seemed to be swallowing up everything early, and it just felt like the Leafs’ night. 

Second Period

It’s 3-0 and the Leafs fans in attendance are getting on Price a little. Canadiens fans aren’t happy, and they’re definitely not going to like this:

Oh goodness.

Third Period

The wheels are just totally coming off. Prust and Fraser drop them in some sort of attempt to restore “the code” but it’s no use. Again the Leafs score early – Holzer of all people – and things just boil over. Kostka feeds Gallagher the soup bones and it goes on from there.

There’s also talk of a biting incident around here somewhere but I can’t find any video on it. Guess it didn’t happen. 

Moving along to more scoring fun.

Now, it’s 6-0, “Careyyyy” is raining down over the Bell Centre from the Toronto folks, and you can actually see steam blowing out of Habs fans’ ears. This is about as good as it gets for a Leafs fan, right? Wrong.

Out of control. So out of control, in fact, that it made Josh Gorges cry in a postgame interview. Not only that, he would go a step further by eventually blocking a trade to Toronto the following year.  

I suppose you could argue that this game set in motion the events that led to the Leafs picking 24th overall in this upcoming draft, as they held on to Cody Franson (rumored in the Gorges deal) and eventually dealt him to Nashville as a rental. Keep that in mind on draft day. 

Colton Orr and Mikhail Grabovski, thank you both. 

3 Stars of the Game

3. James van Riemsdyk

One goal, one assist. This was JVR’s first season with the Leafs and he was off to a great start.

2. James Reimer

The score obviously got out of hand, so it’s difficult to say Reimer stole a game here, but he was fantastic. He’d go on to drag the team into the playoffs, force the Bruins to a game seven they had no business being in, and then eventually be replaced by Jonathan Bernier because Nonis apparently bought into Glen Healy’s idea that he has a weak glove. 2013, the year of insane ups and downs for Leafs Nation.

1. Phil Kessel

I’m not sure if Kessel was the most dominant player in this game, but that season (only two years ago, I know) was Peak Phil. He scored a goal, added an assist, and just looked as dangerous as ever. That leg kick on the dish to Phaneuf is the most Kessel thing ever. 

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