Game 765 – Maple Leafs 7, Canadiens 1

Game 765
Maple Leafs 7, Canadiens 1
Saturday, April 8, 2023
Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario

Mitchell Marner scored twice and had an assist to set a career high for points in a season with 98, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montréal Canadiens 7-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.

Marner, who ended a season-high three-game point drought, passed his previous single-season career high of 97 set last season with three games remaining in the regular season.

“It’s definitely a cool thing (to have a chance for 100 points),” Marner said. “I try not to focus on stuff like that, but it’s hard when you’re this close and the opportunity is there. We’ll see, I’ll just go out there and try to play my game and see what happens.”

“I thought we just played a full 60 minutes, did the right thing. I don’t think we cheated much for offensive; we didn’t give up much. That’s how you’ve got to play.”

Auston Matthews had a goal and three assists, John Tavares scored twice, and Ryan O’Reilly and Erik Gustafsson each had three assists for the Maple Leafs (47-21-11), who are assured of finishing second in the Atlantic Division and will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ilya Samsonov made 20 saves.

“The feeling of our group and how they were talking to one another and how focused they were on playing the way they need to play, I really liked that today,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It was a real good feeling behind the bench in terms of how the players themselves, we set the plan and talked about what the expectations were going into the game, and they went out and executed, and made it happen.”

Maple Leafs emergency backup goalie Jett Alexander, who Toronto signed to an amateur tryout prior to the game, relieved Samsonov and played the final 1:10. He did not face a shot on goal.

“It was pretty special, pretty nerve-racking obviously, but something I’ll remember,” Alexander said.

Johnathan Kovacevic scored, and Sam Montembeault made 39 saves for the Canadiens (31-43-6), who are 1-5-0 in their past six games.

“Better than that,” Montréal coach Martin St-Louis said when asked what he was expecting from his team prior to the game.

Marner put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 at 9:08 of the first period on the power play when he shot blocker side from the high slot after a give-and-go with Matthews.

Tavares made it 2-0 at 15:16, one-timing a pass from Marner, who was on the goal line, from the top of the goal crease.

Toronto outshot Montréal 18-1 in the first period.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Canadiens defenceman Joel Edmundson said. “Especially for these games, we get excited. It’s Saturday night in Toronto, it’s a big rival.

“We get excited for these games, so to go out there and leave ‘Monty’ out to dry and just play the game we did, it’s frustrating. They just came with a lot of pace, which we expected, but we didn’t respond well to it.”

Kovacevic cut the lead to 2-1 at 2:28 of the second period when his shot from the point deflected off Marner.

The Maple Leafs went up 3-1 at 3:56 after O’Reilly’s centering pass deflected off William Nylander in the slot over Montembeault’s right shoulder.

Marner extended it to 4-1 at 4:52 with his 30th goal and 98th point of the season. After setting up Michael Bunting for a shot in the slot which he put off the goal post, Marner backhanded the rebound off the back of Montembeault from just above the goal line.

“We would love to see (getting to 100 points) happen, that’s for sure,” Tavares said of Marner. “He’s right there, and it’s extremely well deserved for the impact he makes in every facet of the game, and the type of player he is. It’s another First All-Star team and Selke Trophy-worthy type of season. So good all around, and I have no doubt that if he continues the way he plays and what he does, he’ll get there.”

Tavares made it 5-1 at 6:01 of the third period with his 35th goal, backhanding in a loose puck in the crease on the power play.

Matthews extended it to 6-1 at 13:51 after he got past Jake Evans at the top of the left faceoff circle and shot high glove from the hashmarks.

Michael Bunting made it 7-1 at 16:50, deflecting Matthews’ shot at the top of the goal crease on the power play.

Toronto went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.

“I thought we did a great job,” O’Reilly said. “Especially against a team that’s out of the playoffs. They play a little looser with the chances, but I thought we did just an excellent job of not giving them much. We got out of that first period, we give up just a shot. That’s what you have to do.”

NOTES: The Maple Leafs played without defencemen Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie, who each sat out due to rest…Marner reached 30 goals for the second time in his seven-season NHL career. His career high of 35 was set last season in 72 games.

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1st Period

MTL PEN – 01:34 – Evans, hooking
MTL PEN – 08:39 – Barron, high sticking
TOR PP GOAL – 09:08 – Marner (Matthews, Gustafsson)
MTL PEN – 14:30 – Wideman, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 15:16 – Tavares (Marner, O’Reilly)
TOR PEN – 15:19 – Simmonds, fighting major
MTL PEN – 15:19 – Pezzetta, fighting major
TOR PEN – 17:53 – team, too many men on the ice

2nd Period
MTL GOAL – 02:28 – Kovacevic (Matheson, Suzuki)

TOR GOAL – 03:56 – Nylander (O’Reilly)
TOR GOAL – 04:52 – Marner (Bunting, Matthews)
TOR PEN – 17:56 – Schenn, cross checking

3rd Period
TOR PEN – 01:00 – O’Reilly, high sticking
MTL PEN – 05:32 – Harvey-Pinard, tripping
TOR PP GOAL – 06:01 – Tavares (O’Reilly, Gustafsson)
MTL PEN – 06:01 – team, delay of game
TOR PEN – 11:21 – Bunting, unsportsmanlike conduct
MTL PEN – 11:21 – Edmundson, cross checking / unsportsmanlike conduct double minor
TOR PEN – 11:21 – Simmonds, roughing double minor
TOR GOAL – 13:51 – Matthews
MTL PEN – 14:59 – Suzuki, interference
TOR PP GOAL – 16:50 – Bunting (Matthews, Gustafsson)

TOR – Samsonov (W, 20-21), Alexander (0-0)
MTL – Montembeault (L, 39-46)

TOR – 18+16+12 = 46
MTL – 1+14+6 = 21

TORGoaltenders: Jett Alexander, Ilya Samsonov. Defence: Mark Giordano, Erik Gustafsson, Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren, Jake McCabe, Luke Schenn. Forwards: Noel Acciari, Zach Aston-Reese, Michael Bunting, David Kampf, Alexander Kerfoot, Sam Lafferty, Mitchell Marner (A), Auston Matthews (A), William Nylander, Ryan O’Reilly, Wayne Simmonds, John Tavares (C).
MTLGoaltenders: Sam Montembeault, Cayden Primeau. Defence: Justin Barron, Joel Edmundson (A), Johnathan Kovacevic, Mike Matheson, Corey Schueneman, Chris Wideman. Forwards: Joel Armia, Jonathan Drouin, Jake Evans, Brendan Gallagher (A), Denis Gurianov, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Mike Hoffman, Michael Pezzetta, Rem Pitlick, Nick Suzuki (C), Chris Tierney, Jesse Ylonen.

TOR – 47-21-11 (.665)
MTL – 31-43-6 (.425)


Mitchell Marner (TOR)
⭐⭐ John Tavares (TOR)
⭐⭐⭐ Ryan O’Reilly (TOR)