Leafs mauled in Montreal

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

MONTREAL -- In a whirlwind day and a half, Brad May was traded, celebrated his son's 13th birthday in California, caught a red-eye flight east and participated in an optional skate with his latest NHL team.

And for good measure, the rugged forward followed the boss' orders and got in a spirited scrap in his first night as a Maple Leaf.

Fuelled by adrenalin and coffee, the veteran made his blue and white debut last night at the Bell Centre and for a while must have wondered what he got himself into.

The Leafs continued one of their worst slides of the season, getting smoked 6-2 by the skilful Canadiens and now have dropped six of their past eight.

In the latest blowout, the Leafs barely showed they belong on the same ice as their Original Six rival, but at least they went down with a fight. Make that fights.

"When it's ugly it's great," May said, showing the attitude Leafs president Brian Burke was recruiting when he acquired May in a trade with Anaheim on Wednesday.

"If you don't like it, don't watch it."

It won't make up for the glaring void in talent, as was apparent last night, but the feistiness shown by May and others may be the first sign of Burke's imprint taking hold.

Most notable was Jamal Mayers pounding of Tom Kostopolous, a clear payback to the Hab who crushed Leafs defenceman Mike Van Ryn with a nasty hit from behind in November.

"We have a close group in here," said Mayers, who landed several shots to the noggin of Kostopolus. "Obviously it was a questionable hit (on Van Ryn). It's an emotional game."

Before the officials could drop the puck to resume play after that second-period scrap, May had dropped his gloves and was duking it out with another Montreal tough guy, Francis Bouillon.

"We had a lot of guys answer the bell and I'm happy with that," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "But we still need some more effort from a lot of guys, unfortunately.

"Brad did everything he could. He brought some emotion, some physicality."

May, who played 9:15 in his Leafs debut, felt his teammates responded to the Canadiens in the alley, if not on the scoreboard.

"We competed in the third period," May said. "I know that doesn't seem like much, but hopefully we will be competitive like that (in the future)."

Late in the third, fired-up Mikhail Grabovski certainly did, attempting to jump former Montreal teammate Sergei Kostitsyn before being tackled to the ice by a linesman. The pair clearly have bad blood left over from last season when Grabovski angered teammates by leaving them while on a western trip to protest his diminished ice time.

The Leafs weren't in this one for long as they plunged into their usual first-period crater. The Habs opened up a 2-0 lead before the game was five minutes old on goals by Kostitsyn and Maxim Lapierre.

Guillaume Latendresse, Andrei Kostitsyn, Alex Kovalev and Max Pacioretty also scored for the Habs while defenceman Tomas Kaberle and Matt Stajan (with 1:30 left) replied for the Leafs.


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