TORONTO - As he tried to grab a few winks Thursday night, Brian Gionta probably still had nightmares of the gangly blue-and-white creature named Giggy dancing through his head.
In an opening-night goaltending battle between J-S (Giggy) Giguere and the Montreal Canadiens Carey Price, Giguere’s left pad was all that stood in the way of the Habs grabbing at least a single point as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
With the host Maple Leafs nursing a 3-2 lead in the game’s final moments, Gionta tried a wraparound that was thwarted by Giguere’s leg. Falling to his knees, Gionta had two more attempts, only to suffer the same fate.
As he lay sprawled on the ice, Gionta looked up at the scoreboard as the final horn sounded, helplessly coming to the realization that his team had come up one goal short on opening night.
“Hey, I tried,” Gionta said. “I had a great chance. I tried to wrap and he got his pad on it. I tried to get the next one up and there was his pad again. One more try and it was the same thing.
“Listen, he made two or three leg saves at the end. You have to give him credit.”
While Giguere deservedly earned first-star honours, Price earned some respect among his teammates for just suiting up.
Having missed practice Wednesday due to illness, Price overcame his nausea and was solid, if not spectacular. That didn’t stop the young goaltender from being showered with boos at times, although it is not known how many of those came from disgruntled Habs fans.
If Price could have had one moment back, it would have been Clarke MacArthur’s winning goal at 1:36 of the third period.
“He caught me going the wrong way,” Price said.