TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs insist there was no panic.
There was no hollering, swearing or paint-peeling in the locker-room after a disastrous opening 20 minutes Saturday.
They stayed calm, and it paid off.
Zach Hyman scored with 1:50 to go in the third period as Toronto erased an early 3-0 deficit to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3 inside an electric Scotiabank Arena.
"When it's 3-0 and they've got to turn the music on loud because they're scared what the fans will say, that's not a great feeling," Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought we were really prepared, we really jumped, but it just goes to show you when you're young sometimes and it's a big game, you get a little sometimes off-kilter when you shouldn't."
William Nylander and Auston Matthews, with a goal and an assist each, and Tyler Ennis also scored for Toronto (37-20-4), which snapped a season-high three-game slide. Frederik Andersen stopped 32 shots, while and Patrick Marleau, Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly had two assists apiece.
Hyman and Andreas Johnsson both added empty netters in the final minute as the Leafs crept to within three points of the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division and moved five clear of the Canadiens. Toronto has a game in hand on both clubs.
"What a win for us to end a losing streak, to come back like we did (on) Saturday night against Montreal," Hyman said. "It's a good feeling."
Andrew Shaw and Jeff Petry, with a goal and an assist each, and Tomas Tatar replied for Montreal (33-22-7), which had its two-game win streak halted. Carey Price made 31 saves.
"It sucks," Canadiens winger Artturi Lehkonen said. "Hockey games lasts for 60 minutes, and we didn't play the full 60."
The winner came after Marner's initial shot hit Hyman, who collected the loose puck to score his 12th of the season and send the crowd into a frenzy.
"Everybody contributed," Hyman said. "It was one of our best team wins of the year to be able to come back like that."
Having battled to within a goal in the second period, the Leafs tied the score at 6:58 of the third on a fortuitous bounce when Marleau's dump in took a crazy hop off the boards in front to Nylander, who fired his fourth with Price out of position.
"It just bounced out and nobody knew where it was," Nylander said. "(Price) was almost close to getting it there with his glove."
"I was pretty surprised," Price said. "Those are the breaks in a hockey game."
Johnsson took a penalty with eight minutes to go in regulation, but Toronto's Kasperi Kapanen came closest to scoring when he toe-dragged a Montreal defender and rang a shot off the post to set up the late drama.
Toronto made it 3-1 early in the second on the power play when Matthews, who beat Price in overtime back on Oct. 3, took a pass from Rielly and fooled the netminder through the five-hole for his 29th goal of the season at 2:13.
The Canadiens, who have a tenuous hold on the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, came close to going up 4-1 later in the period, but Andersen stopped Paul Byron and Max Domi in quick succession.
"He doesn't get enough credit for what he does night in, night out," Matthews said of the Toronto goalie. "He's kept us in games we didn't deserve to win."
Toronto got another power play when Lehkonen went off for goalie interference towards the end of the period, and connected when Nylander fed a no-look pass down low to Marleau, who found Ennis for his eighth.
"You could feel the energy," said Ennis, who only recently returned to the lineup after sitting out 21 games with a broken ankle. "We were down three, but we're a confident bunch.
"It was one of those nights where you weren't going to be denied."
The Leafs came in having won six in a row against the Canadiens — including two overtime victories this season after sweeping their four meetings in 2017-18 to snap Montreal's 14-game winning streak over Toronto — but fell behind early.
Shaw opened the scoring at 8:07 of the first when he got two bites at a loose puck thanks to some disjointed defensive coverage in front of Andersen before burying his 13th the season, and third against the Leafs.
Montreal then went up 2-0 at 12:44 when Toronto's fourth line turned the puck over in the neutral zone. The Canadiens' top unit raced the other way when Petry jumped up from his blue-line position and delivered a spin-o-rama pass into the slot to Tatar, who fired his 21st shortside on Andersen.
Brendan Gallagher nearly made it 3-0 moments later off another turnover — this time by Leafs blue-liner Ron Hainsey — but Andersen robbed the Montreal winger with his glove on a breakaway.
The visitors would eventually stretch their lead on a man advantage at 13:52 when Petry ripped his 11th upstairs on Andersen as the Canadiens' 31st-ranked power play connected for the first time in 11 opportunities.
"You get up 3-0, you should come out with a win," Gallagher said. "It stings more than a regular loss."
Notes: Leafs centre Nazem Kadri sat out his second straight game with a concussion. Nylander once slid over from the wing to take his place. ... Matthews has 10 goals in 10 career outings against the Canadiens. ... Marleau played the 1,635th game of his career to move into sole possession of eighth on the NHL's all-time list.
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