TORONTO - Tomas Kaberle said he felt “goose bumps” when the Air Canada Centre gave him one of the loudest pre-game ovations of the home opener, while Dion Phaneuf definitely felt something worse when looked at the bloody gash on his leg.
Phaneuf, the Maple Leafs new captain, spent a chunk of the third period getting some stitches, but returned to play in the wild finish of a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Phaneuf was sliced some time late in the second, tried to play a shift in the third and then went right to the ACC clinic.
“Sitting back there (watching on TV), getting stitches is not where you want to be,” Phaneuf assured. “I pushed a guy in front and his skate came up and cut me in the leg. Nothing too serious.”
Kaberle looked taken aback by the warm reception during player introductions, not long after coach Ron Wilson had heard a few boos when he was singled out. The two were at odds after last season in the wake of a fifth straight playoff mishap, complicated by Kaberle’s father publically criticizing Wilson.
“It felt really good inside me tonight,” Kaberle said after waving to the crowd. “Fans have supported me the 12 years here. I’m glad we have the best fans in the league. They need more. The last five years we haven’t done much.
“This has always been my second home, I had a lot of friends in the city and a lot of them were here tonight.
“I’m actually glad we finally started the season. The off-season was long, the summer was long, there was a lot of stuff in the papers, blah, blah, blah. That’s not what players are looking for, we’re looking for two points.”