Bunting scores twice, Leafs down Canadiens in Toronto debuts for O'Reilly, Acciari
TORONTO — Michael Bunting scored twice as the Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday in the Toronto debuts for Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari.
The forwards were acquired from the St. Louis Blues in a blockbuster three-team trade late Friday — and were in the action at Scotiabank Arena just over 20 hours later.
Pierre Engvall, with a goal and an assist, William Nylander and David Kampf had the other goals for Toronto (34-14-8). Joseph Woll made 29 saves. Auston Matthews and Rasmus Sandin each picked up two assists.
Josh Anderson replied for rebuilding Montreal (23-29-4), which got 34 stops from Jake Allen.
Down 1-0 in the second period, Bunting took a pass from Matthews on a power play and scored his 17th before Engvall made it 2-1 when he fired a shot Allen could only get a piece of for his 12th.
Bunting added his second of the night with 1:40 left in the period off a Calle Jarnkrok feed that saw O'Reilly pick up the second assist.
Nylander stretched the lead to 4-1 four minutes into the third with his team-leading 31st goal following some great work down low from Matthews.
Kampf rounded out the scoring late with his fifth of the campaign, and first in 28 games.
Dealt to the Leafs along with Acciari for four draft picks — including Toronto’s 2023 first-round selection — in a swap that included Minnesota for salary cap purposes, O'Reilly, who won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with St. Louis in 2019, started on a line between John Tavares and Mitch Marner.
The 32-year-old from Clinton, Ont. — a town some 200 kilometres west of Toronto — nearly scored on his first shift before Acciari had a good chance with five minutes left in the first.
The injury-riddled Canadiens, who downed their Original Six rival twice at home earlier this season, opened the scoring in the second when Anderson tipped his 16th — and 13th all-time against Toronto — past Woll, who got the start with Ilya Samsonov (illness) and Matt Murray (ankle) unavailable before the home side responded.
O'Reilly joins defenceman Mark Giordano as a former NHL captain in Toronto's locker room alongside Tavares.
"I don't think you can ever have enough," Tavares said Saturday morning of leadership. "Being the captain doesn't mean you have all the answers. You need different people to lead in different ways."
Giordano was glad the Leafs didn't lose anyone off their roster in the trade.
"The first thing that goes through your mind is, 'Who did we lose?'" said the 39-year-old. "Everyone in here has been a big part of our success."
Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis provided a pre-game update on the recovery of centre Sean Monahan — out since early December with a lower-body injury.
One of eight Montreal players on injured reserve, the pending unrestricted free agent could be dealt before the March 3 trade deadline if he's healthy.
"He's kind of plateaued," St. Louis said. "We'll see what next week brings."
O'Reilly joining the Leafs means almost half of Toronto's roster is comprised of players from southern Ontario.
"It does give you some perspective on the passion for this team," said Tavares, who grew up in nearby Oakville. "We've got a great opportunity."
Leafs: Visit Chicago on Sunday.
Canadiens: Visit New Jersey on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2023.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press