Like most annoying little siblings, the Montreal Canadiens have been chasing the Toronto Maple Leafs all season. The Habs don’t have the same skill, or ability to attract big free agents, but they had the opportunity to pass their big sibling Maple Leafs in the standings tonight with a win.
They did not get the win.
In fact, John Tavares finished off a Maple Leafs third-period comeback to win the game 4-3 in overtime. John Tavares. That’s funny, wasn’t he the guy who chose to have a meeting with the Leafs and not the Canadiens, despite the Quebec franchise spending all of last season preparing cap space and trade proposals in order to lure the franchise center to French Canada? That the same guy? That can’t be a good feeling.
the Habs finally got a face-to-face with John Tavares— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) February 10, 2019
The Leafs also got goals in this game from Andreas Johnsson, Nikita Zaitsev, and William Nylander, who tied the game in third. Frederik Andersen got bumped around a lot, but he came out of this game stopping 35 of 38 shots, good for a .921 sv%. Carey Price only had a .875 sv% tonight, for comparison.
Within a minute of the game, Andrew Shaw scored. F************CK.
[Spoiler alert: Shaw would spend the rest of the night breaking his sticks rather than using them to tip pucks into the net, so there’s that.]
Two shifts later, and at the end of a long fourth-line shift, Andreas Johnsson beat Carey Price to tie the game! Zach Hyman got the one and only assist on the play, earned as a result of his great work to get the puck and then send a pass up the slot for Lil’ John to score.
Nikita Zaitsev picked up the puck following a Par Lindholm faceoff win, walked the offensive blueline and sifted a wrister through a maze of bodies past Price, giving the Leafs their first lead of the game. Thank you, Nikita. Thank you for doing it against the stupid Habs, too. You’re the best. I can’t wait for all the comments to call to trade you because your trade value is high.
After the flurry of goals, we got a flurry of penalties. First, Phillip Danault got called for tripping Mitch Marner in the offensive zone. The Leafs got one chance from the Marner spot, but didn’t look very dangerous. Then, John Tavares got called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty. The Habs got two shot attempts in those four minutes, including a big chance from Tomas Tatar in the slot, but Frederik Andersen stood tall in his crease and stopped it.
Near the end of the first, Tatar got in Andersen’s grill. As the play was blown dead Tatar fell onto Freddy’s glove hand. The tall Dane appeared to be in a lot of pain and needed to trainer to have a look at him. Eventually he got up and went to the bench. By the time the commercial break ended, Freddy was back in the Leafs net and looking just fine. Something to monitor, though.
Annoyingly, it was a pretty even first period. The Leafs and Habs shared eight shot attempts apiece, but the Leafs ended the period leading in 5v5 shots 15-13.
At the end of the period, Auston Matthews lost his balance and fell head-first into the end boards. The camera panned away as the play went the other way, but it didn’t look like it took very long for Matthews to get back to the bench, though he nearly did get the Leafs in trouble for having too many men on the ice on his way off. Hopefully we don’t see an update on his status any time soon.
At the beginning of the period, Tatar skated down the middle of the ice, and threw the puck on from the top of the faceoff circles. Andersen went to catch the puck with his glove — the glove that Tatar fell on earlier in the game — but missed it and the puck went in. Without a doubt a terrible goal to give up. Woof.
Man, the Leafs power play sucks. They got two opportunities throughout the second period, but despite getting three shot attempts on Price, they gave up two on Andersen. That’s right, the Leafs got out-shot 1-2 in four minutes with the extra man. Is it time to move Marner off the power play? The passes aren’t getting through cleanly and the shots players like Tavares, Matthews, and Nazem Kadri are getting have been far from ideal attempts. Other teams have figured him out. It’s time to shake it up.
The second period was statistically as even as the first. Both the Leafs and Habs were even with 13 in shot attempts each. Shots were even at six, but the difference came in the Leafs having a 5-2 lead in scoring chances.
Max Domi tried to scored a goal by batting it in with a high stick, but the goal was rightfully discounted. Minutes later, Ron Hainsey failed to get the puck out of the defensive zone twice and forced Matthews to try and bat the puck out with his stick. Unfortunately, the former baseball player knocked a homerun out to right field, giving the Habs a power play.
On the ensuing power play, Brendan Gallagher scored off a rush chance. There was some confusion as to whether this was a goal because the net came off its moorings, but Tim Peel announced the play was unreviewable and the puck would’ve gone anyway. I have a qualm with this goal, however, because Andersen was kicking the back of the net in order to push forward and get in front of the puck. Since the net came off, he didn’t get the same push as he could’ve. I know it’s a pretty unfair thing to ask, but, hey, I’m a fan.
William Nylander ties the game at threes with an absolutely sexy goal from the right faceoff dot off the rush. It was a perfect shot just over Price’s blocker. What a gamebreaker. I love him. Credit to Tavares for the breakout pass, too.
Nylander's contract will look like a bargain in a year, my column— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) February 10, 2019
A few minutes later, Kasperi Kapanen (who had an astonishing seven shots on net in this game) nearly did the same thing as Nylander, but couldn’t beat price through the five-hole.
With 31.8 seconds left in regulation, Zaitsev backhanded the puck high over the glass and into the stands; the team’s second delay of game penalty in the period.
The Leafs would kill off those 31.8 seconds, but the two teams needed overtime...
Hainsey and Jake Muzzin were integral in closing out the penalty, they held the Canadiens to only two shot attempts, but no shots or scoring chances. Muzzin even blocked a shot and used his pants to freeze it for a whistle.
The real 3v3 began with three minutes left. One minute later, this happened.
John Tavares, who refused a meeting with the Montreal Canadiens in the summer, swept into the offensive zone and roofed a Sidney Crosby-esque backhand up and over Price ending the game.
It was beautiful. The moment was beautiful. Give us this in the playoffs.
Vive les Canadiens!