Playoff Game 73
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Stanley Cup Quarterfinals, Game 2
Saturday, May 22, 2021
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
Auston Matthews had a goal and two assists, and the Toronto Maple Leafs evened the Stanley Cup First Round by defeating the Montréal Canadiens 5-1 in Game 2 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.
“The best way to describe him was very complete,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said after Matthews won 16 of 20 face-offs. “He was extremely competitive, physical on the puck, scored a huge goal for us, played with all sorts of authority, strong in the face-off dot. There wasn’t really anything he didn’t do extremely well today. We had good efforts all throughout our lineup, but there’s no question Auston was a difference-maker.”
The Maple Leafs were without captain John Tavares, who sustained a concussion and a knee injury in Game 1 on Thursday. The forward is out indefinitely.
“It means a lot not only for the guys in the locker room but for John himself,” Matthews said. “He’s such a big part of this team, he’s our leader. When something really scary and serious goes down like it did the other night, I think the response from our group was unbelievable tonight.”
Rasmus Sandin scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal, William Nylander had a goal and an assist, and Jack Campbell got his first Stanley Cup Playoff win by making 22 saves for the Maple Leafs. They had lost nine straight playoff games to the Canadiens since Game 6 of the 1967 Stanley Cup Final, the last time Toronto won the Cup.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored after being a healthy scratch in Game 1, and Carey Price made 29 saves for the Canadiens.
“We were a little better in the third period, but we cut our own legs out with too many penalties in the first and second period,” Montréal forward Phillip Danault said. “We had trouble getting back, but we tried the best we could in the third but it was too late.”
Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is at Montréal on Monday.
Matthews put Toronto up 2-1 at 5:15 of the second period when he scored on the rebound of Justin Holl’s shot.
“I think Auston was our best player,” Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza said. “Our best players have been Auston, Mitchell Marner, Nylander, John Tavares every night, and that’s why our team was in first place this year. Auston is a guy we know his play just raises with the big moments.”
Sandin made it 3-1 on the power play at 13:20 with a slap shot from the top of the slot. The Canadiens challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal was upheld after review.
“I didn’t know what the challenge was about to be honest, so I was just hoping for them to call it a goal,” said Sandin, who last scored January 27, 2020. “I was a little nervous because I haven’t scored for about a year and a half, so I really wanted that to be a goal and I was super happy when they called it.”
Toronto outshot Montréal 20-6 in the second period but was outshot 8-5 in the third.
“It was a tough second period,” Price said. “It was definitely important (to have a push in the third); we were still in the game and had a chance to come back. We’ve done it before this season, but it didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Nylander scored on the power play at 8:50 of the third period to make it 4-1. Toronto had gone 32 games without scoring two power play goals in a game.
After Montréal pulled Price for the extra attacker with 6:26 remaining in the third, Alexander Kerfoot scored into an empty net to make it 5-1 with 1:23 left.
“It’s one game at a time, every game is different,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “I don’t think they’re going to be scoring five goals a night. Tonight was a different night.”
The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead at 7:57 of the first period when Kotkaniemi put in a rebound in the slot. It was his first goal in 25 games (March 15).
Jason Spezza tied it 1-1 at 12:25 when he shot past Price’s glove from the right face-off dot after a loose puck came to him as he came off the bench.
“As a team we didn’t have any doubts, but all goals at playoff time are big goals,” Spezza said. “I’ll take that one. It was the biggest one I’ve had this year. But you want a response; you don’t want to let the game get away from you. They are a team that plays well with a lead. The quicker we could tie the game up, it levels things and allows us to play our game.”
MTL GOAL – 07:57 – Kotkaniemi (Armia, Toffoli)
TOR GOAL – 12:25 – Spezza (Bogosian)
TOR PEN – 16:25 – Hyman, holding
TOR GOAL – 05:15 – Matthews (Holl, Marner)
MTL PEN – 06:29 – Gallagher, high sticking
MTL PEN – 08:33 – Lehkonen, slashing
MTL PEN – 11:58 – Kotkaniemi, cross checking
TOR PP GOAL – 13:20 – Sandin (Marner, Matthews)
MTL PEN – 13:20 – team, unsuccessful challenge
MTL PEN – 07:26 – Weber, cross checking
TOR PP GOAL – 08:50 – Nylander (Matthews, Rielly)
TOR EN GOAL – 18:37 – Kerfoot (Nylander)
MTL PEN – 19:31 – Byron, cross checking
TOR PEN – 19:40 – Simmonds, roughing
MTL PEN – 19:40 – Edmundson, roughing
TOR PEN – 19:40 – Engvall, game misconduct
MTL PEN – 19:40 – Weber, game misconduct
TOR – Campbell (W, 22-23)
MTL – Price (L, 29-33)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 9+20+5 = 34
MTL – 9+6+8 = 23
TOR – Goaltenders: Frederik Andersen, Jack Campbell. Defence: Zach Bogosian, T.J. Brodie, Justin Holl, Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly (A), Rasmus Sandin. Forwards: Pierre Engvall, Nick Foligno, Alex Galchenyuk, Zach Hyman, Alexander Kerfoot, Mitchell Marner (A), Auston Matthews (A), Ilya Mikheyev, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton.
MTL – Goaltenders: 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, Brendan Gallagher (A), Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen, Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Nick Suzuki, Tomas Tatar, Tyler Toffoli.
⭐ Auston Matthews (TOR)
⭐⭐ William Nylander (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Jason Spezza (TOR)