MONTREAL -- Due to some nasty weather along the eastern seaboard, the Maple Leafs did not arrive in snowy Montreal from Washington until 3 a.m. yesterday.
So what else is new?
Whether it is their travel itinerary or their games against the Habs at the Bell Centre, the Leafs always appear to require overtime when they come to Montreal.
Last night was no different.
For the fourth time this season -- three of those at the Bell Centre -- the Leafs and Habs could not settle the score in regulation and needed a shootout to determine the outcome.
After captains Mats Sundin and Saku Koivu exchanged shootout goals, Habs rookie Andrei Kostitsyn beat Andrew Raycroft to give Montreal the 3-2 win and pull into a tie with the Leafs at 78 points each.
The loss came just 24 hours after the Leafs turned in an inexcusable lacklustre effort in a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the lowly Capitals Friday night,
With a playoff-type atmosphere prevailing inside the electric BellCentre, the two teams made no secret of how much they despised each other.
And, as has been the case in a number of previous meetings this season, it was easy to see that the Canadiens were targeting Darcy Tucker.
In the first period, Tucker and Habs defenceman Francis Bouillon dropped the gloves in a spirited bout. For the record, that is the same Francis Bouillon who dropped Tucker with a punch during a Dec. 2 meeting at the Bell Centre.
In the second, Tucker's face was left a bloody mess when he was clipped by a high stick from Koivu. The Leaf bench was incensed that no penalty was called on the play.
Even diminutive Ian White was throwing his 5-foot-10 frame around, exchanging shoves with the bigger Guillaume Latendresse.
The Leafs last night surrendered the first goal for the fourth consecutive game, a trend that, should it continue, will quickly turn coach Paul Maurice's hair as grey as that of Pat Quinn, the man he replaced behind the Toronto bench.
The Habs opened the scoring at 6:05 of the opening period when Kastitsyn dipsy-doodled into the Leafs end, then ripped a shot through the legs of both a Toronto defenceman and Raycroft.