After a truly unfortunate first game of this series there was a bit of pause for concern about how the Leafs would do in this series. Without Tavares, and now without Foligno, the Leafs looked to be in an uphill battle situation. Thankfully the Canadiens really aren’t good at all and that has been the great equalizer as the Maple Leafs now have a 3-1 series lead on the strength of the 4-0 shutout tonight. You can definitely hook this series up to my veins.
The first period held true to how things have gone for the Leafs in the first throughout the series. Not to say they looked bad, but just not able to get on the scoreboard. The second period was a different story and with William Nylander stretching his goal streak to 4 games, and Galchenyuk starting a night to remember, the period would end 3-0 and basically seal the game as Spezza and Thornton also found the net.
It goes without saying that with a shutout Jack Campbell had one hell of a night, and playing on back to back nights and only giving up one goal is incredible. I’m going to be cautious not to jinx anything here, so instead I’ll just appreciate what we’ve seen in the first four games.
I think our three stars selections are fairly obvious…
3rd Star: Conn Smythe Favourite William Nylander
Nylander’s goal would hold up as the game winner, his fourth of the playoffs also ties him with Wendel Clark for playoff goal streaks. Can’t stop those good Canadian prairie boys.
2nd Star: Alex Galchenyuk
Okay, so the restoration project seems to be back on track or at the very least Galchenyuk chose tonight to work through his anger issues with the franchise that mismanaged so much of his career. If it was just two beautiful assists on the night we’d still have Galchenyuk as our second star tonight, but his empty net dagger is the kind of goal that takes any remaining wind out of the sails of the Habs, and hopefully this series will be done in 5.
1st Star: Jack Campbell
Seriously, a shutout. After playing last night in a tight 2-1 game. He had a .951 save percentage coming into the night, and the shutout pushed him up to .975. If I wasn’t so committed to Willy winning the Conn Smythe this year, I’d be on the Jack Campbell bandwagon, since he has unquestionably had the strongest series of any Leafs goaltender since their last Conference Finals trip.
40th Star: I dunno, do we really want to find anything bad about this game?
If you want to complain about refs, Gallagher, the less than ideal ice conditions, go knock yourself out, I’d prefer to think of it all as a rich tapestry that lead to the Leafs win.
Well, the Leafs finally have the opportunity to eliminate a team in a non game seven setting. Toronto will get three kicks at the can, but hopefully they can get it done at home Thursday night, and get a bit of rest before facing the Jets. It’s hard not to feel confident about the Leafs chances to close out this series, even with all the Leafs realities dancing in the back of my head.
There is also a good chance that we will see Nick Foligno back in the next game, as he was a game time decision both of the last couple of nights, and a little bit more rest might have him ready to go.