Maple Leafs 3, Canadiens 2
Saturday, April 9, 2022
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
Auston Matthews scored twice and the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 win against the Montréal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.
“I just think that (the playoff berth) is the next step,” Matthews said. “This season has been continued progression for us and I think this last segment or so, we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey and we just want to keep that going.”
John Tavares scored and Erik Kallgren made 24 saves for the Maple Leafs (47-19-6), who reached 100 points for the sixth time. Toronto is 7-0-1 in its past eight and leads the Boston Bruins by five points for second place in the Atlantic Division.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our team and with 10 games left, it’s a sign you’ve had an excellent regular season,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We’ve been preparing and acting, feeling as though we’re a playoff team for a long period of time now but certainly to have that official speaks to the process and the work that the guys have put in to this point. And also it just allows us to zoom in and focus even more so on making sure that our game is ready and our team is prepared when the time comes.”
Jake Allen made 14 saves for the Canadiens (20-41-11) before leaving 13:32 into the first period with a lower-body injury. Sam Montembeault made 23 saves in relief.
“We came out a little slow, a little sloppy and obviously they capitalized on the turnovers there on the second goal,” Canadiens forward Josh Anderson said. “I thought we played pretty good later on in the first period and then carried over to the game and we had some big kills there that kept us in the game and when Montembeault came in, he played phenomenal and gave us a chance to win.”
Matthews put Toronto up 1-0 at 13:32 of the first period when he backhanded a rebound from Mark Giordano’s shot over Allen’s out-stretched left pad.
Matthews made it 2-0 at 13:59 when he cut into the slot and shot past Montembeault’s glove from the left hashmarks for his NHL-leading 58th of the season.
“When the second one goes in, (Jason) Spezza turned around (on the bench) and gave me the eyes like there’s something special here and no doubt, it’s fun,” Keefe said. “I’m surprised he stopped too to be honest with the way he was playing, it felt like he was going to have a serious night. But he was great tonight. For him to establish the (Toronto record for goals in a season) and come back home here, he’s clearly not satisfied so he’s continuing to push himself and our team.”
Joel Edmundson cut the lead to 2-1 at 5:58 of the second period when he one-timed a pass from Nick Suzuki in the slot.
Tavares made it 3-1 at 8:07 when he spun and shot from the right faceoff dot, banking a shot off Jordan Harris’ skate at the side of the net.
Cole Caufield cut the lead to 3-2 at 18:03 when he shot high to the blocker side from the right faceoff dot.
The Canadiens killed off a 5-on-3 power play for 1:44 which began at 11:17 of the third period.
“It was a big kill,” Montréal coach Martin St-Louis said. “It gave us a chance to stay in the game and you feel after that, if there’s another penalty called it’s probably going to be on them if I was a betting man and we got that. It gave us a chance to make a push last two minutes, pull our goalie and we just didn’t get the goal. But I love that we…it’s a big part of the game, every play matters and we treated it that way.”
The Maple Leafs killed off a minor penalty for high sticking to Pierre Engvall with 1:58 remaining. Montréal pulled Montembeault for six attackers with 55 seconds left.
Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said he is not concerned about any bad habits developing now that Toronto has clinched.
“It feels good,” Rielly said. “We really hadn’t talked about it much until tonight before the game but there’s lots of hockey left to be played, lots of potential for movement within the standings so I don’t think we are going to read too much into it. We’ve got to continue to play some good hockey here and improve and make sure we are taking care of our business.”
NOTES: St-Louis said he had no further update on Allen and that he will be assessed on Sunday…Matthews extended his point streak to 16 games. He has 31 points (21 goals, 10 assists) during the streak. He has scored 51 goals in his past 50 games, becoming the first player since Mario Lemieux scored 51 goals in 50 games from October 26, 1995 to March 7, 1996…Matthews’ 43 even-strength goals surpassed Frank Mahovlich (41 in 1960-61) for the most in a single season in Maple Leafs history.
Story property of NHL.com, photo property of SB Nation
TOR GOAL – 13:32 – Matthews (Giordano, Marner)
TOR GOAL – 13:59 – Matthews (Bunting, Holl)
MTL PEN – 13:59 – Wideman, roughing / cross checking double minor + 10 min. misconduct
TOR PEN – 13:59 – Bunting, roughing
MTL PEN – 02:54 – Pezzetta, hooking
TOR PEN – 03:41 – Tavares, high sticking
MTL GOAL – 05:58 – Edmundson (Suzuki, Petry)
TOR GOAL – 08:07 – Tavares (Mikheyev, Kerfoot)
MTL PEN – 15:09 – Romanov, cross checking
TOR PEN – 15:59 – Rielly, tripping
MTL GOAL – 18:03 – Caufield (Gallagher, Dvorak)
TOR PEN – 19:11 – Giordano, slashing
MTL PEN – 11:01 – T. Pitlick, tripping
MTL PEN – 11:17 – Suzuki, slashing
TOR PEN – 18:02 – Engvall, high sticking
TOR – Kallgren (W, 24-26)
MTL – Allen (14-15), Montembeault (L, 23-25)
SHOTS ON GOAL
TOR – 18+10+12 = 40
MTL – 8+11+7 = 26
TOR – Goaltenders: Jack Campbell, Erik Kallgren. Defence: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Justin Holl, Ilya Lyubushkin, Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly (A), Rasmus Sandin. Forwards: Colin Blackwell, Michael Bunting, Pierre Engvall, David Kampf, Alexander Kerfoot, Mitchell Marner (A), Auston Matthews, Ilya Mikheyev, William Nylander, Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza, John Tavares (C).
MTL – Goaltenders: Jake Allen, Sam Montembeault. Defence: Joel Edmundson (A), Jordan Harris, Jeff Petry, Alexander Romanov, David Savard, Chris Wideman. Forwards: Josh Anderson, Joel Armia, Cole Caufield, Laurent Dauphin, Christian Dvorak, Jake Evans, Brendan Gallagher (A), Mike Hoffman, Michael Pezzetta, Rem Pitlick, Tyler Pitlick, Nick Suzuki (A).
TOR – 47-19-6 (.694)
MTL – 20-41-11 (.354)
⭐ Auston Matthews (TOR)
⭐⭐ John Tavares (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Mitchell Marner (TOR)