TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to get the win for new coach Mike Babcock but they earned the respect of the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
"Much tougher playing to play against," said Canadiens left winger Max Pacioretty who scored twice in the 3-1 victory in his first game as team captain. "They're going to surprise a lot of teams.
"They were definitely hard-nosed and in our face. We didn't have much out there. It felt like a playoff-style game in the first period right from the puck drop. It's obvious they've all bought it and they're going to open up some eyes this year."
Center Alex Galchenyuk scored at 12:02 of the third period to end a 1-1 tie and Pacioretty scored an empty-net goal at 19:29 to clinch the win for Montreal in the opener of the season for both teams.
The loss spoiled the regular-season debut of Babcock, who took over as coach in the offseason after leaving the Detroit Red Wings.
Left winger James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs in the opening seconds of the second period to tie the game.
"They showed tonight that they're going to be a tough team," said Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who had three assists.
"You can tell that they were on the same page," Price said of the Leafs.
"I thought their goaltender was solid," Babcock said. "I thought ours was real solid after the first shot."
Babcock went on to praise Price.
"They don't even know over there that he made a huge save," he said. "It's just another day's work or him."
"It's definitely still early and it's only Game 1," Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri said. "But I felt we did a lot of good things. Everybody contributed. (Price) is not a bad goaltender. He's definitely helps that team out. He made some good saves. When you're as good as he is, he's going to make those saves. You try to get in front of him and try to jam a few in. We had a lot of good opportunities and a couple hit him and stuck."
Galchenyuk, a center, shot home a rebound from the slot after a shot by defenseman Andrei Markov at 12:02 to end a 1-1 tie. The Maple Leafs had a chance to clear the rebound but failed, leaving it for Galchenyuk.
Montreal opened the scoring at 3:09 of the first period on a goal by Pacioretty, whose shot bounced off Bernier's right shoulder before trickling over the line.
"Max played a good game, the line played a good," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said.
Van Riemsdyk was stationed in the slot when he deflected a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle by Kadri to tie the game at 19 seconds of the second period.
The power-play goal came six seconds after Montreal right winger Brendan Gallagher was penalized for goaltender interference. Defenseman Dion Phaneuf also earned an assist on the goal.
Montreal had a goal nullified nearly seven minutes into the second for incidental contact with the goaltender. The review was the result of a Maple Leafs challenge.
"We had lots of chances to score," Babcock said. "In the third period I didn't like that when we started pushing, we got a little carried away at times. But I thought we did lots of good things structurally. I thought we won a lot of battles. In saying all that, I'd like us to score better and I thought we could've been tighter at times in our own zone and through the neutral zone.
"I thought we had a real good second period, but for about six minutes we didn't take care of the puck and they took over. You've got to win games. That's the bottom line."
NOTES: The Maple Leafs were playing their opening game against the Canadiens for the seventh straight season. They are 4-2-1 in those games. ... The Canadiens claimed LW Paul Byron off waivers from the Calgary Flames on Tuesday and assigned LW/C Jacob De La Rose to Hamilton of the American Hockey League. Byron did not play Wednesday. ... The Maple Leafs claimed D Frank Corrado off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday and assigned LW Richard Panik to the Marlies of the AHL. D Scott Harrington, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Phil Kessel trade this summer, was recalled from the Marlies. Corrado did not play Wednesday. ... The Habs play their next three games on the road starting Saturday against the Bruins in Boston. ... The Maple Leafs visit the Detroit Red Wings on Friday for their next game.