The Toronto Maple Leafs first round series with the Montreal Canadiens started in the worst possible way. Captain John Tavares suffered a serious injury in the first period following a collision with Corey Perry.
William Nylander scored the team’s first goal of the playoffs, but they eventually lost 2-1 on a first period goal from Josh Anderson and a shorthanded goal from Paul Byron. Jack Campbell played well, but ultimately lost the game stopping 28 of 30 shots.
The game started with a bit of a bang, Josh Anderson got around the defense on a change for a breakaway, but Campbell was up to the task.
Tavares got kneed in the face by Corey Perry as he was falling and had to leave the game. It was a terrifying situation, completely unintentional, and we don’t know what else to say other than we hope John is okay.
The Leafs got the lethargic “retribution” they seemingly needed as Nick Foligno fought Perry on the next faceoff. The Leafs clearly wanted it as they all stick-tapped the bench after it was over. Katya has more on this in a separate article. No, we won’t be showing a replay.
Anderson beat Campbell on the second time of asking, scoring on a breakaway to open the scoring.
Hyman had a great chance on Price with a solo effort from the side of the net. He went between his legs onto his forehand and nearly got the puck over Price’s shoulder. Nylander and Foligno were joined by Alex Kerfoot on the second line the next shift.
Hyman drew a hooking penalty on Tyler Toffoli (who tends to take a lot of penalties), sending the Leafs to their first power play of the series. Thornton and Hyman joined Matthews, Marner, and Rasmus Sandin. Matthews got about four chances, including one that hit the inside of the post and bounced out the other side.
Matthews rips a shot from the right circle pic.twitter.com/z1aLnUG2YJ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
- Shot attempts: 16-17 (48%)
- Shots on goal: 10-13
- Scoring chances: 5-8
- Expected goals: 0.39-0.75 (35%)
The Matthews line got the best of the chances in the first. The Leafs seemed pretty emotional after losing their captain to a very scary injury, and rightfully so. They got a little more aggressive on the body and Matthews definitely let his emotions out with some big shots on the power play. The intermission couldn’t have come sooner, there were a lot of guys, including Jason Spezza, that just looked like they really needed to take a breath. The feeling online from Leafs Nation was quite sombre, as well.
The second period started and Holl got a weird penalty where he deflected the puck over the glass. The Leafs killed it off without much of a chance from the Habs. Marner had a shorthanded chance but he couldn’t get the shot off.
Justin Holl deflects the puck over the glass pic.twitter.com/vrKfghabMS— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
NYLANDER! The next shift after the penalty kill, Matthews joined Foligno and Nylander. After a good puck recover from the Swede, the puck came around to the left side of the net where Nylander banged home the rebound to tie the game.
WILLIAM NYLANDER— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
THE LEAFS ARE ON THE BOARD! pic.twitter.com/zYFtB3TsOs
Ben Chiarot (who also takes a lot of penalties) got one for his poor actions in the scrum following a whistle, drawn by Matthews, sending the Leafs back to the power play. Nylander nearly got his second of the night on the power play’s second unit, but the puck couldn’t settle in time and he ricocheted it off the crossbar.
Another angle of Matthews laughing at big mad Chiarot pic.twitter.com/Cpm1Gjhl3e— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
Following the power play, the Leafs put out their equivalent of a Blue Jackets line with Foligno, Riley Nash, and Ilya Mikheyev. Forwards rotated through that line and the second line to compensate for the loss of Tavares.
Marner had a sneaky chance of his own from the side of the net after receiving the cycle. Price thought he was going to pass it to the point, but Marner tried to sneak it through some pads on the short side. It just didn’t get through.
Then Spezza got called for a hook. Campbell had the point shot on the power play covered. We all needed some of those butt taps. He also stopped Toffoli in alone and Joel Armia (who actually missed the net).
Jack makes the save and hands out some playoff taps pic.twitter.com/McLojctgDD— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
- Shot attempts: 13-6 (69%)
- Shots on goal: 8-3
- Scoring chances: 5-4
- Expected goals: 0.57-0.17 (77%)
It was a much better period for the Leafs in every way. They came out with a lot of energy and a game to win. Nylander scored the tying goal, Matthews drew an hilarious penalty, and Marner got a few great chances off the rush. Hyman got two of the better chances in the period as well. All of that can be underscored by Campbell’s performance in net. He wasn’t needed often, but the chances were quality and he needed to be great to stop them. And he was.
Jack Campbell waves the glove at Toffoli pic.twitter.com/1vsts735vs— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
Early in the period, the puck got a bad bounce off the glass and came towards the front of the net. The Habs jammed away at it, getting the puck to move left to right. Campbell was out of the position but Rielly made an amazing kick save to stop a goal. They took an icing and got out of the mess after.
Marner got called for a puck over glass penalty after failing to clear the zone twice. He was slashing at the puck to get it out and not moving his feet. The Leafs killed the penalty pretty well, but gave up yet another breakaway as Toffoli split the defense. The Canadiens mostly spent their time giving Weber chances to hit Campbell.
Another puck over the glass penalty, this time to Nylander. He was getting hit behind the net and tried to saucer the puck to Muzzin, but got too much on it and it sailed into the stands. The Leafs killed the penalty.
I’ve noticed the Habs power play does best off the rush when they get the zone entry. They’re usually able to come in with numbers and create some space for shots as the defense scrambles. Once the power play gets into formation, Campbell seemed pretty comfortable taking Weber point shots. The Leafs defense did a great job of clearing bodies so Campbell had clear vision to the puck.
Following the penalty kill, Marner and Nylander got away on a 2-on-1, and Marner had a big chance to take the lead, but Price got a piece of the puck with a good save.
Jeez Carey Price got a piece of this Marner shot pic.twitter.com/q2rm4hNjHq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 21, 2021
After killing a few penalties in a row, the refs gave the Leafs a power play. With the Leafs in the zone, Thornton gave the puck away and Paul Byron went the other way. Sandin almost knocked the puck away but didn’t do enough. Byron stayed with the puck and beat Campbell. I hate this.
Spezza took another penalty, this time for tripping, sending the Habs to the power play. The Leafs killed it off. Then Phillip Danault took a pretty dumb penalty and sent the Leafs to the power play.
The new power play unit had Rielly replacing Sandin, and Nylander replacing Thornton. With two minutes left, Spezza came on as the extra attacker with Campbell going to the bench. Jeff Petry hit Hyman high and late, but didn’t get called for a penalty. Nylander had the main shot from the slot that Price absorbed.
Marner had a big shot after the following faceoff but Price absorbed that. Nylander had another good chance at the side of the net but couldn’t get full contact on the puck. Rielly had a shot that got deflected on its way that just barely missed the net.
Full game 5v5 stats:
- Shot attempts: 39-28 (58%)
- Shots on goal: 27-18
- Scoring chances: 13-14
- Expected goals: 1.24-1.04 (54%)
The Leafs gave up too many odd man rushes, but my main focus is hoping John is okay.