Tavares reaches 400 point mark with Toronto as Maple Leafs defeat Canadiens 3-2

Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
Coming off another loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their mini road trip into Montreal to take on another original six rival, the Canadiens, looking to get back in the win column with a couple of newcomers to the lineup.

First period:

For the first time since the opening night of the regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens met on the ice for a game. Unfortunately, similarly to the first meeting, Montreal opened the scoring. But it took them 38 seconds to get on the board first last night.
Ilya Lyubushkin couldn’t keep the puck in the offensive zone, turned it over in the neutral zone, and then Mike Matheson jumped up and finished off a 2-on-1 with Cole Caufield to score his ninth of the season past Ilya Samsonov.
Minutes after the goal was scored, Matthew Knies delivered a hit to Alex Newhook along the boards in the neutral zone and dislodged a mini pane of glass, which had to be repaired. There was a lengthy 10-minute delay.
After the lengthy delay came to an end, the game resumed. Through the first four-ish minutes of the period, Toronto surrendered a goal 38 seconds in, experienced a lengthy delay, and Ilya Lyubushkin lost his skate blade after receiving a hit along the boards.
With the puck dropped again, Toronto continued to look like the second-best team on the ice. Montreal didn’t look all that impressive, but it was clear the Maple Leafs looked rough through the first 10-15 minutes of the period.
They were stuck on two shots halfway through, but as the second half of the period progressed, the Maple Leafs started to generate some scoring chances but couldn’t solve Sam Montembeault.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 1-0 and tied in shots 9-9.

Second period:

After Mike Matheson opened the scoring 38 seconds into the game, Bobby McMann opened the scoring 39 seconds into the second period, tying the game at one with his 10th of the season.
Usually, when someone scores, it energizes the team, resulting in a momentum swing. Well, that didn’t quite happen for the Maple Leafs after McMann got his team on even terms with the Canadiens. Montreal, like Toronto, allowed an early goal but responded well, generating the next scoring chance in the game and limiting Toronto to zero shots for a couple of minutes after the McMann goal.
The Maple Leafs eventually got another shot on Montembeault after the Canadiens controlled play for a while. But neither team could extend their lead despite both teams having an abbreviated power play plus some four-on-four action midway through the frame.
The teams exchanged more scoring chances and some hits before there was a little over a minute left in the second period when Max Domi shot out of a cannon to race for the loose puck. He beat two defenders and scored on Montembeault for his eighth of the season, giving his team the 2-1 lead.
Time winded down to finish the period, but a scrum ensued. The referees pulled three players out of the pile, two from Montreal and one from Toronto, giving the road team a power play to begin the third period.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 2-1 and outshot 22-19.

Third period:

It was far from a perfect game for the Maple Leafs up to this point, but the score read 2-1 Toronto, so I guess you had to be happy about that. However, less than five minutes into the final frame, Timothy Liljegren, who had been fighting it the last little while, was whistled for a holding penalty, sending Montreal to their third power play.
It took the Canadiens less than a minute to find the back of the net as Alex Newhook was allowed to walk in on Ilya Samsonov to rip his 10th of the season home, tying the game at two. The replay wasn’t kind to TJ Brodie and newly acquired Connor Dewar, who let Newhook walk in unmarked.
It continued to look bad for Toronto. They went roughly six-ish minutes before recording their first shot on Montembeault in the third period, with the Canadiens looking to get on the board again to go ahead by a goal.
Luckily, Toronto stuck with it, and the captain, John Tavares, got on the scoresheet with his 20th of the season to get the lead back for his team. Jake McCabe initially shot the puck toward the net, and it took a bounce off Tavares and in, giving him 400 points as a Maple Leaf and his 14th 20-goal season (fifth with Toronto).
It was a fortunate bounce for the Maple Leafs, of course. But what do they say? Pucks on net.
The Canadiens pushed for the tying goal for the remaining seven minutes of the game, and things got a little dicey for Toronto when Calle Jarnkrok got sent to the penalty box for tripping with three minutes to go. Montreal pulled their goalie and had a lengthy 6-on-4, but the Maple Leafs’ penalty kill surprisingly did a good job and kept their opponent to the outside.
Joel Edmundson almost scored on his net after redirecting a centering pass, so there was that. That would’ve been quite the debut for the 30-year-old defender.
Anyway, Toronto hung on to the 3-2 lead and picked up their 37th win to improve to 37-19-8 on the season, 19-7-6 on the road, and ending the 12-game winning streak for the home team between these two teams.

Who stood out:

As mentioned earlier, it wasn’t a perfect effort from Toronto last night, but they were good enough to win the game and grab two crucial points in the standings.
With Mitch Marner out of the lineup, the first line had a new look. Sheldon Keefe went with Tyler Bertuzzi, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander, which sounds fantastic, but it was the exact opposite of that. They didn’t look all that good, and the eye test and the numbers would suggest that. According to Moneypuck.com, they played 12:11 at five-on-five, got outscored 1-0, lost the shot attempt battle 11-6, got outshot 6-3, and generated an xGF% of 28.0%, which was the lowest of all four of the lines to play more than seven minutes together at five-on-five. Those three needed to be much better, especially Matthews and Nylander, who have not been the same lately.
Other than the top line, every other line looked fine. The second line, in particular, looked great, though. It wasn’t just the first line that got shaken up. All four lines looked different, and the second line consisted of Max Domi, John Tavares, and Calle Jarnkrok.
That line, and the third line of Matthew Knies, David Kampf, and Bobby McMann seemed to have the coach’s trust last night and generated the most chances. Both lines combined to outshoot the opposition at five-on-five 14-10, with the second line generating an xGF% of 87.8%, the best of any line between the two teams.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Thursday night when they finish their mini road trip in Philadelphia against the Flyers. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)

Check out these posts...