Playoff Game 72 – Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 72
Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, Game 1
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario

Paul Byron scored shorthanded to break a tie in the third period, and the Montréal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.

Carey Price made 35 saves in his first NHL start since April 19 after missing the final 13 regular-season games with a concussion for the Canadiens, who are the fourth seed in the Scotia North Division.

“That was Carey Price for you, he was an absolute wall tonight,” Canadiens forward Josh Anderson said. “He loves playing in these big games and in these positions. When it gets to the playoffs, you have to bring it to another level and I think Carey and everyone did that tonight.”

Jack Campbell made 28 saves in his first Stanley Cup Playoff start and William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs, the first seed.

“We believe in each other,” Campbell said. “Our offence is a weapon for our team, but Price made some great saves and it just didn’t go our way tonight. I believe in these guys. We all believe in each other and we will be ready to go next game.”

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares left the ice on a stretcher with 9:31 remaining in the first period. Tavares was hit in the face by the knee of Canadiens forward Corey Perry as he was falling after being checked by Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot.

“I’ve experienced a lot of different things, a whole lot of tough injuries and stuff like that in my time as a player and as a coach, but in an empty building like that, that was probably the most uncomfortable situation that I’ve been a part of on the ice,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It was tough to get through. Our players were rattled and concerned.”

Keefe said Tavares is conscious, communicating well and that tests so far have come back clear, but that Tavares will remain in the hospital overnight for further tests.

Teams that win Game 1 are 490-222 (68.8 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including 7-1 in the first round last season. Game 2 is here Saturday.

Montréal is facing Toronto in a playoff series for the first time since 1979; the Canadiens have won nine in a row against the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.

Byron shielded Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin from the puck then shot it past Campbell, who attempted a poke check, giving the Canadiens the lead at 12:44 of the third.

“He’s a feisty player,” Price said of Byron. “He battles in practice. He’s always doing that in practice. He’s a finisher and I’m happy for him.”

Price made a blocker save on Mitchell Marner, who one-timed a pass from Nylander on a 2-on-1 at 9:38 of the third to keep the game tied 1-1.

“I was just trying to read and react and cover the low as one wise man once told me,” Price said.

Toronto went 0-for-4 on the power play including an opportunity at 16:42 of the third period when Phillip Danault took a minor penalty for tripping.

The Maple Leafs went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. Toronto forward Nick Foligno said the amount of time spent on special teams worked against them.

“The penalties, let’s be honest, it’s playoff time, you can’t just give teams life by giving them power plays,” Foligno said. “It was a really choppy game, nobody gets a feel for it and it takes away from what we are good at which is being a 5-on-5 team and being dangerous holding on to pucks. It seemed like we were parading to the box. We have to find a way to get our offensive flow going.”

Anderson put Montréal up 1-0 at 12:08 of the first period after taking a pass from Eric Staal and splitting the two defencemen, Sandin and Zach Bogosian, before shooting past Campbell’s glove.

The Maple Leafs tied it 1-1 at 4:28 of the second period when Nylander put in a loose puck on a rebound from Morgan Rielly’s point shot at the side of the net.

“We were solid from start to finish,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “There’s always ups and downs in the game. I thought our second period was a little bit slower and Carey did a great job tonight, he was solid. I thought as a team tonight we were pretty consistent on both sides of the puck and that’s the type of game that we want to play.”

NOTES: Canadiens forward Jake Evans left the game after the second period with an undisclosed injury. Ducharme said he doesn’t think the injury will keep Evans out “too long” but did not have a timeline on his return…Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman played 24:37 in his return to the lineup after missing the final 11 regular-season games with a sprained MCL. He was minus-1 with four shots on goal.

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1st Period
MTL PEN – 10:30 – Perry, fighting major
TOR PEN – 10:30 – Foligno, fighting major
MTL GOAL – 12:08 – Anderson (Staal, Toffoli)
MTL PEN – 18:43 – Toffoli, hooking

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 01:25 – Holl, delay of game
TOR GOAL – 04:28 – Nylander (Rielly, Holl)
MTL PEN – 06:43 – Chiarot, roughing
TOR PEN – 14:35 – Spezza, hooking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 02:48 – Marner, delay of game
TOR PEN – 07:15 – Nylander, delay of game
MTL PEN – 11:29 – Tatar, high sticking
MTL SH GOAL – 12:44 – Byron (Armia)
TOR PEN – 13:54 – Spezza, tripping
MTL PEN – 16:42 – Danault, tripping

MTL – Price (W, 35-36)
TOR – Campbell (L, 28-30)

MTL – 13+7+10 = 30
TOR – 14+8+14 = 36

MTLGoaltenders: Jake Allen, Carey Price. Defence: Ben Chiarot, Joel Edmundson, Brett Kulak, Jon Merrill, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber (C). Forwards: Josh Anderson, Joel Armia, Paul Byron (A), Phillip Danault, Jake Evans, Brendan Gallagher (A), Artturi Lehkonen, Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar, Tyler Toffoli.
TORGoaltenders: Frederik Andersen, Jack Campbell. Defence: Zach Bogosian, T.J. Brodie, Justin Holl, Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly (A), Rasmus Sandin. Forwards: Nick Foligno, Zach Hyman, Alexander Kerfoot, Mitchell Marner (A), Auston Matthews, Ilya Mikheyev, Riley Nash, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza, John Tavares (C), Joe Thornton.


Carey Price (MTL)
⭐⭐ Paul Byron (MTL)
⭐⭐⭐ William Nylander (TOR)