Bunting scores twice, Leafs down Canadiens 5-1
TORONTO (AP) — Michael Bunting scored twice as the Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday night 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 just over 20 hours later.
“Crazy,” said O’Reilly, who had an assist. “Great just to dive right in, get a big win like that.”
Pierre Engvall, William Nylander and David Kampf scored for Toronto. Joseph Woll made 29 saves. Auston Matthews and Rasmus Sandin each picked up two assists.
Josh Anderson scored 42 seconds into the second period for Montreal, which got 37 stops from Jake Allen.
“The expectation’s the same,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said of his undermanned group. “Just be engaged as a player and keep working on the things that we’re talking about.”
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 an 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 season, 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 Mitchell Marner.
O’Reilly and Acciari were dealt shortly before 11 p.m. ET on Friday and on a plane early to get to Toronto in time to face Montreal despite the fact the Leafs are set to play the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday.
The pair could have met their teammates in the Windy City and remained in the same time zone, but were adamant their first taste of Leafs life would come on home ice.
“Don’t want to waste any time,” Acciari said. “Played against these guys for a while now. Now being able to play with them is fun. I don’t have to the chase them around anymore.”
Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said one of the hiccups in getting to Toronto in time for Saturday’s tilt was the fact both players didn’t have their equipment when the trade was made official.
“O’Reilly might have found a way to acquire the keys to the building to go get his gear,” Keefe said with a smile. “And he grabbed Acciari’s while he was there. That just speaks to what those guys are about. There’s the on-ice things that everyone’s going to see.
“I got a glimpse into what they’re going to bring to our room.”
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?’” he said. “Everyone in here has been a big part of our success.”
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.”
Canadiens: At New Jersey Devils on Tuesday in the third game of a four-game trip.
Maple Leafs: At Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
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The Associated Press