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One down, 81 to go.
Tonight the Toronto Maple Leafs began their 106th season tonight with a roster that was half new, featured two rookies making their NHL debut, and new coaches and a manger trying to make their mark.
Auston Matthews started the game looking for his 300th career goal....
It didn't come right away, but he teamed up with Marner and Bertuzzi to give the Canadiens a taste of what's to come, but Bertuzzi isn't used to playing with line mates of this caliber and he overskates a pass.
The scoring started not long after, when TJ Brodie slipped and fell, Jake Evans from Montreal stole the puck, sped down ice and went top shelf on Samsonov to give the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead.
The Canadiens also get the first powerplay of the season after Calle Järnkrok gets called for hooking.
The Maple Leafs penalty kill does well taking away passing lanes, forcing the Habs to loop back to their zone to regroup and retry entering the Leafs end, with a real lack of success. The powerplay ends with almost no offense and no goal.
Ryan Reaves gets the Leafs fans on their feet for the first time tonight after throwing a hit on Kaiden Guhle behind the net and Arber Xhekaj has his gloves off before he comes into frame to give the people what they wanted. Reaves handles the kid, and skates to the box with a 1-0 record on the season.
The Leafs walk away with a powerplay after Xhekaj gets the instigator penalty. The Leafs PP gets deeper into the offensive zone than their opponents, and get to set up some passing plays in front of the net. Missed pucks, blocked shots, keep the Canadiens in the lead.
The game has been a little slower paced than I expected, but the Leafs do love playing down to their opponents (saying that happened earlier than I expected), so it's not surprising. Shots are getting through for both teams, but it was capitalizing on a simple accident that got the Canadiens the lead.
The Leafs trap the Canadiens in their zone, getting a few good shots on net to try and tie the game. Ryan Reaves almost scores, then parks himself in front of the net, causing frustrations for the defender and goalie but not enough to get the puck past them.
The first period ends with the Montreal Canadiens leading 1-0 in goals, and 11-9 in shots.
The second has the top line out to start again, and Bertuzzi is having trouble tonight with passing. He misses a pass that goes to the Canadiens, then he sends a nice tape to tape to...the Canadiens.
The Canadiens aren't having as much of a problem with the Leafs as we would like, in fact a lot of the time they're the dominant team.
A little while later, Slafkovsky makes a play behind the Canadiens net, and the play gets taken all the way down the ice and ends with Alex Newhook scoring his first goal as a Canadien. Score is 2-0 Montreal.
Nick Suzuki is a little too eager to get the puck off David Kämpf, gets called for slashing and we have our second powerplay for the Leafs.
The powerplay isn't as sharp here as it was in the pre-season, with a shorthanded breakaway given to the Canadiens as they get past John Klingberg, and no goal for the Leafs again.
Kaiden Guhle hangs onto David Kämpf's stick just long enough to tangle Kämpf up and draw a high sticking call. Can't have an uneven number of penalties!
Nick Suzuki sets up Cole Caufield for the Canadiens third goal of the game, but Sheldon Keefe quickly challenges it for offside. The challenge is good, so it's still 2-0 with a Canadiens powerplay.
The Maple Leafs slowly start fighting back, and as the power play ends Noah Gregor is on the ice and the last minute signing paid off, he comes into the Habs zone alone and scores five hole for his first as a Maple Leaf, the first Leafs goal of the season, and cuts the lead in half. John Klingberg got the assist for his first Maple Leafs point.
2-1 Canadiens at the halfway mark.
Oh, here's your new goal song:
Alex Newhook gets a little frisky with the stick and gets called for hooking, so we get the third Leafs powerplay of the game.
William Nylander rings one off the crossbar early in the powerplay, and the crowd is still getting over the close goal when Auston Matthews scores after scoring his 300th NHL career goal.
Another Leafs powerplay comes up after Jake Evans gets called for holding TJ Brodie, and it results in a William Nylander one knee one timer to get the Leafs the lead.
Second period ends with the Maple Leafs up 3-2, leading in shots 26-13.
We have solid Leafs dominance to open the third, with the first two minutes spent deep in the Canadiens end, with a couple shots that almost doubled the lead. The Canadiens dump it out but the Leafs bring it right back in.
The pressure doesn't let up and after Auston Matthews almost scores, a kerfuffle breaks out in front of the Canadiens net with Tyler Bertuzzi kicking things off and everyone getting involved.
Bertuzzi gets two for slashing, Josh Anderson gets two for roughing, and Ryan Reaves also gets a minor.
That last one gets the Canadiens a power play and they quickly tie the game with Cole Caufield shooting into the traffic that is blinding Samsonov.
It seems the swap of directions on the ice also led to a swap in fortunes, as Alex Newhook tips in an Arber Xhekaj shot and the Canadiens get the lead back.
The Leafs lost the control they had at the start of the period and it's a fight for the puck between the two teams.
Not much of a fight, as the Canadiens make it 5-3! Thank you Jesse Ylönen you jerk.
Ooph. Matthews sends a hard pass to Marner who completely whiffs on it and the puck goes down across the ice to the Leafs end.
After that, we get under five minutes to go and the Leafs pull Samsonov for the extra attacker.
That strategy worked! Auston Matthews scores from the goal line next to the net and gets his second goal of the game, and that brings the Leafs up to four goals and down one.
The Leafs empty the net once again, with 3:30 left, and the puck gets away from everyone and a Canadien makes it down the ice first, but is stifled by the Leafs defence.
The Canadiens are doing a good job covering the Leafs, forcing puck dumps and bad passes, and despite the hard work put in over two minutes there's still no tying goal.
Then. There is.
Auston Matthews ties the game with his 8th career hat trick as we have just over one minute remaining in the game. John Klingberg catches a clearing attempt on the backhand to barely keep the puck in the zone and that sets up the play to tie the game.
At the last second Ilya Samsonov makes a save on Matheson, and the buzzer goes. 5-5 after 60 minutes. It's overtime, uh, time.
We almost get four for Matthews to start the overtime, but Jake Allen says no. And then again. It's real rude. We swap from Rielly-Matthews-Marner to Nylander-Jarnkrok-Klinberg and Nylander also comes close and gets some big "ahh!" out of the crowd. Matthew Knies takes over for Nylander, but is again denied.
Matthew Knies gets the puck out of the Leafs zone, but bobbles it, the Habs take over and in his rush to end the play Knies gets called for tripping Kirby Dach. The Canadiens call a time out as we enter the final 1:47 of overtime on the penalty kill.
The Leafs PK is sitting in the middle of the Canadiens power play, forcing long outside passes, and they are sticking close to the shooters next to the net. It's not easy for the Canadiens and Samsonov is making the save when called on.
We are headed to a shootout.
William Nylander comes in close, but hits the post with an attempt to sneak one past Allens skate.
Nick Suzuki swings wide and loses the puck. The crowd cheers as the puck dribbles away behind him.
Auston Matthews. Three goals so far. Gets it on net but Allen gets the blocker in the way.
Cole Caufield is second for the Canadiens, skates to the boards and then shoots wide.
Mitch Marner, who has had a bit of a rough night, is the third shooter for the Leafs. He stickhandles small and right up to Allen and then sends it high into the corner to score!
Kirby Dach has two goals tonight but can't get the third and the Maple Leafs complete the comeback to win game one of the 2023-24 season 6-5!
It was a rough game at times, great at others. Definitely room for improvement as the season goes on, but a win is a win, and it's good enough for me.
The next Maple Leafs game is Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild. Game time is 7:00PM. First Saturday game of the season! I will see you there.
- David Kämpf played his 400th NHL game tonight.
- Auston Matthews is now in sole possession of 5th all time in Leafs goals.
- He is 121 goals back of breaking Mats Sundin's all time record of 420 (nice)
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