TORONTO (Reuters) - The oldest rivalry in the NHL kicked off the 2014-15 season in wild fashion on Wednesday as the Montreal Canadiens responded to a late Toronto Maple Leafs goal with one of their own for a 4-3 victory.
Czech Tomas Plekanec scored his second goal of the night with 43 seconds left in regulation to restore Montreal’s lead less than two minutes after Morgan Rielly tied the game.
The Canadiens, out to prove last season’s run to the Eastern Conference final was no fluke, opened the scoring five minutes into the game when Max Pacioretty sped by Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf before beating Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier.
But Nazem Kadri tied the game shortly after and Tyler Bozak tallied on a powerplay with under a minute to play in the first period to give Toronto a 2-1 edge.
Plekanec tied the game when he took a nice pass from Alexei Emelin and broke in alone and patiently waited for Bernier to make a move before stuffing it home early in the second period.
P.K. Subban, in his first game since being made one of the NHL’s top-paid defenseman, put Montreal in front midway through the final period to set up the wild finish.
Meanwhile, the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings suffered a 4-0 shutout loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Tommy Wingels scored twice for the Sharks while Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick allowed four goals in two periods and was pulled for the start of the third.
In Calgary, the Vancouver Canucks started on the right foot by defeating the Flames 4-2.
The Boston Bruins, who had the NHL’s best record last season but lost in the second round of the playoffs, also left it late in their season-opener as Chris Kelly scored with under two minutes to play in a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask, who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie last season, stopped 19 shots in the victory.
Reilly Smith also scored for the Bruins, who were playing without injured David Krejci, their leading scorer from last season. Sean Couturier had the lone goal for Philadelphia.
Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Ian Ransom