Martin Jones impresses, young guns shine as Toronto sweeps back-to-back over Montreal: Maple Leafs postgame
Photo credit:David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita2 months ago
With a record of 2-1-1 heading into the second half of the back-to-back against the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto was going to be without their top guys for the second consecutive game as the Canadiens were dressing a handful of theirs as they looked to even up the mini-series.
Last night’s game was pretty boring for the most part as we only saw three goals go in the back of the net, so the hope was that we’d get to see some faster pace hockey, more scoring chances and ultimately, more goals as these two teams finish off this back-to-back before they head to Toronto for another game Monday night.
The first period began the total opposite of how last night’s game started. The speed and pace of tonight’s game were evident right off the get-go, and both teams traded chances through the first five minutes of play.
Just over six minutes into the game, we got our first goal of the contest, and it came from two of Toronto’s best players through camp so far, Fraser Minten and Matthew Knies.
Minten found Knies in tight beside the goal and finished a wraparound on Sam Montembeault to give his team the early 1-0 lead.
After Knies opened the scoring for Toronto, Montreal, led by Caufield and Suzuki, continued to push and generate a lot of chances, but Martin Jones had the answer for all of them.
With about four minutes remaining in the first period, Lias Andersson took an interference penalty to put Toronto on the power-play, but that would only last for roughly 30 seconds as Pontus Holmberg took a holding penalty as Montreal was streaking on a short-handed breakaway.
Although both teams generated a decent amount of chances in the opening 20 minutes, Montreal held an advantage in shots 14-5 yet trailed 1-0.
The Canadiens came out for the second period looking like they didn’t miss a beat and kept their foot on the gas. They hemmed Toronto in their zone for the first minute and a half as they continued to generate scoring chances, but the Maple Leafs weathered the storm.
However, a too-many-men penalty killed their momentum and put Toronto back on the power play five minutes into the second period. It was unfortunate because they only managed one shot on the man advantage, but a high-sticking penalty from Kirby Dach put the Maple Leafs right back on the power play.
With seconds remaining on the power play, it looked like Nick Suzuki was going to clear the puck out of his zone, but a hungry Noah Gregor attacked him and forced him to turn the puck over. The puck spat out to Abruzzese, who found Steeves on a 2-on-0 with Minten, and he set Minten up for his first of the preseason.
With just over two minutes left in the frame, Nick Robertson was whistled for goalie interference, and he didn’t like the call. His team did a good job killing the penalty, and luckily, as he was exiting the box with seconds remaining in the period, the puck was in perfect position at the Canadiens blue line for him to scoop it up and fire it past Montembeault for the 3-0 lead.
Toronto started the final period by taking a penalty just a minute and a half in as Marshall Rifai went to the box for cross-checking in front of his net. Luckily, the power-play for the Canadiens struggled all night tonight and couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage.
Although they killed the penalty and got back to even strength, Ryan Tverberg was called for a high-sticking penalty on Kirby Dach, putting Toronto back on the penalty kill with just over 10 minutes left in the third.
They ultimately killed off their fifth penalty and were treated to a power play, but Montreal’s penalty kill got one past Martin Jones to snap his shutout with just nine minutes left.
The Canadiens continued their push in the final five minutes to try and mount the late comeback, but Martin Jones and the young guns shut it down to pick up the 3-1 win on the road.
Who stood out:
The youngsters continue to stand out and impress me, and I know I’m not the only one thinking this as we watch these games.
Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten, Easton Cowan and Nick Robertson all had great games and great camps thus far, and they were part of the reason the Maple Leafs picked up the 3-1 win tonight to improve their preseason record to 3-1-1.
Martin Jones, a potential waiver option for Toronto to fit under the salary cap, has also impressed in the early going during the preseason, and he had his best game tonight.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in action Monday night when they host the Montreal Canadiens. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT on Sportsnet.
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