The Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the season opener 2-1 Saturday as the night belonged to several former Toronto Marlies who made big contributions in the win.
None had a bigger impact than defenceman Mike Kostka playing in his very first NHL game at the age of 27. Kostka paired with Dion Phaneuf played the second most minutes for the Leafs at 22:59. He recorded his very first NHL point on the Leafs first goal of the season.
“Mike Kostka was a dominant player for us, playing a lot of minutes,” head coach Randy Carlyle said. ”He’s had a great year in the American Hockey League and it really is astounding that he hasn’t played a game in the league before tonight.”
Kostka was ecstatic following his first NHL game against the Leafs biggest rival.
“Everything and more,” he said. “My parents were here, my sister, brother-in-law, a few of my best friends and I know a lot of people were watching back home so it was special.”
Leo Komarov came as advertised. He finished all his checks, got under the skin of the Canadiens and planted himself in front of Carey Price all game long. He led both teams in hits with eight as the Leafs held a 39-24 advantage in that department.
Carlyle was pleased with not only Komarov but his entire team.
“We had a team effort and some guys got more minutes than others but whatever the minutes the contribution has to be consistent and give your best,” Carlyle said.
The Leafs will have the day off on Sunday prior to hosting the Buffalo Sabres Monday in the home opener (7pm, Sportsnet, Sportsnet Fan 590)