Kadri missed by this much

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

MONTREAL — It would have been a storybook finish for Nazem Kadri.

Here he was at the Bell Centre Saturday night, the place where, just 17 months earlier, he had been jeered by the pro-Montreal Canadiens crowd after being picked seventh overall in the entry draft by the hated Maple Leafs.

It was a tough pill to swallow for a kid who had been a Habs fan while growing up in London. But he took it like a man.

“I’m used to getting booed,” he said at the time.

Fast forward to Saturday night, where Kadri returned to the scene of the crime as his Maple Leafs took on the Canadiens.

“I’d like to repay them for booing me (at the draft),” Kadri said prior to the game. “In fact, it would be great if I got my first goal here, wouldn’t it?”

He almost did.

Midway through the third period, the puck was bouncing in front of the Canadiens’ net. Suddenly Kadri was there, poised to put it past Carey Price for his first NHL goal.

What sweet redemption this would be.

Or not.

Just as he was about to pull the trigger, Habs forward Travis Moen put his stick over that of Kadri and tied him up, preventing the Leafs rookie from making personal history.

“For a moment I thought I had it,” Kadri said after the Leafs 2-0 loss to the Habs. “Actually, had he tried to lock me up even more, I think there was still a chance.”

On this night, it would be a story of missed opportunities for the Leafs.

“We had chances,” Kadri said. “We are getting A-type chances and not converting. These are not B-chances we’re talking about here.”

Had Kadri scored his first NHL goal on the play, it would have been extra special, seeing as his father Sam was watching from the stands. Sam Kadri was in the house as part of the Leafs annual Dads’ trip.

Beyond the numbers

Coach Ron Wilson suggested Kadri was outmuscled on the play. If you connect the dots, is that not yet another insinuation that the kid needs to work on his strength? ... Once again playing on a line with Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak, Kadri had 19:38 of ice time and two shots on goal ... During the morning skate, a wide-eyed Kadri took time to look around the arena in an attempt to absorb the experience. “It was special to step out onto that ice here and check out the place. You see it on TV but it’s just not the same.” ... Kadri has three assists in the four games he has played since being called up from the Marlies.

Off sides

Montreal fans continue to boo Mike Komisarek every time he touches the puck. Why? It wasn’t solely his decision to leave as a free agent at the conclusion of the 2009 season. He had hoped to get a suitable contract offer the year before, but then-Habs GM Bob Gainey wouldn’t budge ... With ex-Hab Mikhail Grabovski getting jeered too, there were not enough boos to go around ... At the same time, you’ve got to give the Toronto fans in the crowd credit. At numerous points in the game, chants of “ARR-GOOS” cascaded throughout the nosebleed seats ... That must have been music to the ears of the Argo PR staff, who watched the game from the press box.

Instant replay

Count on Nikolai Kulemin having nightmares after failing to convert with an open net staring him in the face with 3:18 left in the game and the Leafs trailing 2-0. Instead of sinking the two-foot putt, he hit Habs defenceman Jaroslav Spacek in the leg ... We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Don Cherry, in his first period tribute to Pat Burns, held up a copy of the Saturday edition of the Toronto Sun, one which had Burns’ image on the cover.

Overtime

Prior to the game, Canadiens Hall of Famer Henri Richard was asked if he ever thought the Maple Leafs would go this long without having won a Stanley Cup. “I remember seeing Eddie Shack a couple of years ago and he yelled at me, ‘Do you remember ‘67?’” the Pocket Rocket recalled. Well, do you, Henri? “I remember we used to play the Leafs on a Wednesday night in Toronto, then take the train back and play Saturday night here. I got hit a few times. I think by Bobby Baun.”

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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