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Maple Leafs beat Canadiens as Matthews gets to 58

Matthews with two, that’s all that matters. And for the probability haters, the Leafs have clinched, so you can relax.

Toronto Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Glorious news: this is the last time the Maple Leafs play the Montréal Canadiens. This is the last episode of No One Coached Before Martin St. Louis the stunning sequel to Sheldon Keefe Invented Timeouts. I can’t wait for it to be over!

First Period

The Leafs start off with all the pressure, and it’s almost four minutes in before I remember Erik Källgren is playing tonight.

The Habs, even though they have the world’s best coach, look like they’re on the PK when the Leafs press. They are leaving a forward high all the time to see if they can get a rush chance against. It seems... suboptimal, but maybe they can make it work against the Leafs.

Josh Anderson, who was not cheating high, does get a break, but he doesn’t do much with the shot. Källgren gives up a rebound that landed in Lake Ontario, but he gets away with it.

At the other end of the ice, Auston Matthews is on shot number 25 or so, it seems.

Matthews makes it 57 to save this game from pointlessness!

1-0 Leafs - and note the defending there.

Jake Allen, who the Habs have been playing into the ground for no good reason, hurt himself on that play, and has to leave. Samuel Montembeault is in the net, and you know... this ain’t even a surprise.

2-0 Leafs and 58 for Auston

Naturally some guy has to beat up Michael Bunting, and good golly they give the Leafs the power play and a misconduct to Wideman (aka some guy).

Ironically, the Canadiens play the actual PK better than they defend at five-on-five.

Nylander gets a post, and doesn’t he know Matthews is supposed to get a natural hattrick?

The Canadiens get a shorty rush, and Källgren doesn’t quite curtail the puck, but it’s all sorted out in the end.

Caufield comes out of the box and gets a rush, and it’s exactly like every other one this game, big rebound, nothing comes of it.

The period finishes with the puck held against the boards to run the clock, a true sign of the quality of late regular season games.

Thoughts

  • go watch the goal gifs again

Second Period

The early going looks like the Canadiens might be a little more in the game, and it would be hard not to be given the tilt to the ice in the first.

Michael Pezzetta goes off for two minutes and the Leafs get another power play. Nylander gets a shot that looked suspiciously light, like he was setting up a rebound for Matthews.

JT evens it up with a high stick off the faceoff, and it’s Mitch Marner time — four-on-four.

Oh wow. Marner just goes, and Jeff Petry does a great job of stopping him, and then Montembeault gets to stop Marner too.

Nylander goes next, and nothing comes of that either, but this is quite the goalie duel from two guys with very similar flaws.

The Canadiens get an extended cycle on their power play and the seconds after, and you should have seen this coming when the Leafs had two excellent chances that didn’t go in.

2-1 Leafs

JT! Leafs get their lead back up into — who am I kidding, there is no safe lead.

3-1 Leafs

Alexander Romanov gets it for a cross check against the boards because, you see, a cross check isn’t a cross check unless your hands are far enough apart on the stick, per the broadcast, and I just.. okay, NHL, that’s how you crack down.

This time Morgan Rielly evens it up, so it’s four-on-four again.

Källgren with a big save.

Matthews stays out into PK time to take another shot on goal.

The fans chant MVP, which... hard to argue against it.

But you shouldn’t taunt the gods of chaos because the coffee isn’t cold tonight, and Cole Caufield makes it 3-2 Leafs.

Gio takes a holding call in the last few seconds, so the third will start on the PK for the Leafs.

Thoughts

  • I think the younger players on the Canadiens need to actually play a system of some kind, no matter how much fun Caufield has just doing whatever
  • Should you dive for a top draft pick by just playing pond hockey for half a season or is a more boring method like the Leafs used better? Maybe the sweet spot is in the middle somewhere.

Third Period

Okay, after coasting for most of the second — which is fine against the last-place team in April — you have to put the hammer down in the third. You can’t just coast all the way to the club with bottle service in the VIP room.

Kerfoot on a rush, and people in Alpha Centauri could see he wasn’t going to shoot it unless he was the last man on earth.

No one saw where the puck went, though.

Källgren stops Brendan Gallagher on a breakaway, and I remember when he was legitimately the most underrated player in the NHL. He’s just not here this season.

Leafs look like they’re trying to up the pace. They sure are taking the puck away at will.

Blackwell draws a penalty with his wheels. Really.

LOL. Oh this is fun. Montréal are all mad about the penalty because they think the Leafs should go for too much man. Then they take a slashing call and give the Leafs a five-on-three.

Much effort was made to get Matthews a good shot, but alas, no.

Matthews on a break and ... nope.

Engvall takes a penalty on an accidental high stick, with just over two minutes left. Just under by the time the Leafs get control.

Marner kills about 10 seconds on the highest, slowest lob ever. He’s so good when there’s less than 10 skaters, it’s not funny.

Källgren with a good save and he controls the puck.

And that’s it, the Leafs hold off the Habs, and we don’t have to look at them for months.

Thoughts

  • the regular season games will continue until you file your taxes people, so get on that
  • next game is Tuesday and word is we might get to see Owen Power