TORONTO (AP) — James van Riemsdyk tugged at the Toronto Maple Leafs logo on his chest, mimicking the celebration P.K. Subban made after an overtime goal two nights earlier.
That wasn't a coincidence.
Van Riemsdyk was on edge after some taunting from the Montreal Canadiens defenseman, but waited until after scoring the game-winning goal Saturday night before letting that emotion show through.
It was tension that was building throughout a 5-3 Leafs victory that was a showcase for the rivalry.
"I'm usually not one to engage in stuff like that, but I was a little bit fired up," van Riemsdyk said. "It just kind of happened."
Of the 19,667 in attendance, plenty were cheering for Montreal, and it made for a much more raucous atmosphere than usual at Air Canada Centre.
"If you don't get shivers and chills on Toronto-Montreal on a Saturday night on 'Hockey Night in Canada,' either in Montreal or Toronto, then I don't think you understand the true meaning of the game here in Canada," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after his team's season-high fourth consecutive victory.
Toronto's Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves on 33 shots and Carey Price of the Habs made 25 saves on 29 shots.
Before van Riemsdyk scored the game-winner at 14:27 of the third, Cody Franson, Phil Kessel and Mason Raymond also scored for the Leafs.
Brendan Gallagher, Brian Gionta and David Desharnais scored for the Habs.
"We're a team that was pushing the pace and we were skating well," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "Individual mistakes cost games. That's where it's disappointing. We give goals. They're not even supposed to be scoring chances."
Toronto center Nazem Kadri had two of the game's best passes, setting up Franson for the Leafs' first goal and then Raymond for his on the power play.
It was a breakout night for Kadri, who has been the subject of criticism and trade rumors lately.
"I wanted to come out and have a big game," Kadri said. "Obviously the magnitude of this game was huge. For us to chase that top spot in the division is still a realistic goal for us."
The Leafs' victory moved them within four points of the third-place Habs. They still trail the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins by seven points.