Jake Allen left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. Cole Caufield scored his fourth goal in as many games.

Article content

After the first period, it looked like Auston Matthews and the playoff-bound Toronto Maple Leafs were going to run roughshod over the Canadiens, yet Montreal battled till the final siren in a 3-2 loss at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night.

Advertisement 2

Article content

With the win, the Leafs clinched a playoff berth for a sixth consecutive season. Matthews scored twice in the opening frame, but the Habs only allowed a goal off Jordan Harris’ skate the rest of the way as they nearly clawed back from a two-goal deficit.

Jake Allen left the game after the first goal with a lower-body injury and did not return. Samuel Montembeault gave up a goal to Matthews on his first shot in relief, but stopped 23 of 24 the rest of the way.

Jeff Petry returned to the lineup after missing seven games. The club also swapped Jesse Ylönen and Kale Clague for Michael Pezzetta and Jordan Harris.

First thing’s first, the hometown crowd gave Matthews an ovation for eclipsing the team’s season scoring record:

Advertisement 3

Article content

He added to it shortly after. Matthews scored his 50th goal in his last 50 games after Allen made an acrobatic pad save that put the puck right on the charging forward’s stick. Allen injured himself on the play and his night was done. The last player to score 50 in 50 was Mario Lemieux in 1995-96.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Matthews scored his 58th of the season only 27 seconds later. Before Montembeault could even get warmed up, Matthews cut across the slot while two Habs couldn’t strip him of the puck. He beat Montembeault with a glove side wrister to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. After the goal, Chris Wideman took out his frustrations on Michael Bunting and received a 10-minute misconduct for the ensuing scrum. The Canadiens were outshot 18-8 in the opening frame.

Advertisement 5

Article content

The Canadiens halved the lead early in the second. Cole Caufield may not have received an assist on the goal, but his desperate diving stab to keep the puck from exiting the zone allowed the Habs to regroup in the offensive zone as the power play expired. Nick Suzuki behind the net centred to Joel Edmundson in front, who potted his second of the season to make it 2-1. Petry also got a helper.

Advertisement 6

Article content

The Leafs regained their two-goal lead when John Tavares spun around and fired directly at Harris’ skate in the crease. The puck redirected into the open net for the 3-1 marker.

Advertisement 7

Article content

The Habs again pulled to within a goal. Christian Dvorak chipped the puck from one corner to another to Brendan Gallagher, who centred the puck off a Leaf to Caufield. Caufield waited out the Leaf defender and beat Erik Kallgren with a wrister. The second period ended 3-2. Caufield now has goals in four consecutive games.

Advertisement 8

Article content

The Habs fought off a 5-on-3 to keep the game close in the third period. Tyler Pitlick went off for a tripping call the Habs bench strongly disagreed with, and Suzuki added to their woe by taking a high-sticking call 16 seconds later. But the Montreal penalty killers warded off the formidable Leafs attackers and with just under two minutes remaining, the Canadiens got a power play of their own. Interim coach Martin St. Louis pulled Montembeault with about a minute left for the extra-attacker, and while Rem Pitlick had a chance back door and Mike Hoffman got the one-timer he wanted, Kallgren and the Leafs held on to clinch their playoff berth.

Blame the national broadcast and the two early goals on the Liveblog commenters having their fill of Auston-mania. Yes, he’s putting together a Hart Trophy-calibre season and scoring at a historic pace in this era of hockey, but for two periods, the lowly Habs kept the Leafs honest. I hope Friend of the Liveblog Marc Taillefer hung in there in the end, because he bowed out en français, saying “je n’en peut plus. C’est trop pour moi. Bonsoir mes amies” after the second goal, and it’s hard to blame him.

Something else the commenters were wondering: Will Allen’s injury open the door for Carey Price to return Monday?

3. “Good result, I would have preferred losing to New Jersey and winning tonight.” -Curtis Ault

2. “Hoffman had Caufield tee’d up on that last play….” -Arthur Chilli

1. “Here’s how you can tell that fans are spoiled…the game in Toronto at the 3rd is silent…3-2 and there’s no energy ..Maybe if they can put down their iPhones, stop swallowing down sushi and chasing it with Champagne they can revitalize their team…” -Rick Woods

And final word goes to Bob Taylor. Best of luck on your European trip!

“Well, at least the Laffs didn’t run away with it after going up 2-0 so early. We sure have a long way to go before we can match the top tier teams, although we sure never quit.” -Bob Taylor

Advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Source link