3 keys: Canadiens at Maple Leafs, Game 5 of Round 1
No. 4 Canadiens to the No. 1 Maple Leafs
7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS
Toronto leads Best-of-7, 3-1 streak
The Toronto Maple Leafs will look to win their first Stanley Cup playoff series in 17 years when they host the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Round 1 at the Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
The Maple Leafs have won three straight after a 2-1 win by the Canadiens in Game 1. Toronto hasn’t won a playoff series since defeating the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in the best of 7 Eastern Conference first rounds in 2004.
The Maple Leafs have never won four straight playoff games against the Canadiens.
Defender Morgan rielly said Toronto’s five-game loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in last season’s best of five Stanley Cup playoffs remains fresh on her mind and is one of the prompts to end the series on Thursday.
“Here tonight, I think we understand what’s at stake, what it will take to get the job done,” Rielly said Thursday. “So it’s important that we prepare.
“They’re going to do their best, so it’s going to be a challenge.”
Montreal understands that having to win three straight games to qualify for the second round is a tough task. Teams with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 series are 293-29 (91.0%), including 2-0 this season.
Before Brendan Gallagher said Canadians should avoid being overwhelmed by the moment.
“You have to step away from the big picture and realize that we are playing in the National Hockey League, playing in the playoffs, playing in a great rivalry with a lot of emotion,” said Gallagher. “It’s fun. It should be fun. We should be able to enjoy it.”
Here are 3 keys to game 5:
1. The woes of the Canadiens goals
Montreal’s struggling offense has produced four goals in four games. Two of them came in the past 187: 16, going from the back to the front Paul Byronwinning goal at 12:44 of the third period in the first game.
Maple Leafs goaltender Jack campbell did a good job with his rebound control when he didn’t stifle the initial shots, and the Toronto defense effectively cleared the front of the net to allow Campbell to see the shots come in.
The bottom line: Canadians talked about how to increase traffic in the net; now is the time to walk. Gallagher said Toronto prioritized keeping Montreal on the road and clearing the front of the net.
“You have to give them credit,” he says.
2. Maple Leafs secondary score
Center Auston matthews (41) and before Mitchell marner (20) combined for 61 goals in the regular season. They combined for one in that series, over Matthews in Toronto’s 5-1 win in Game 2.
But that hasn’t been a problem for the Maple Leafs. Although Montreal has focused its attention on stopping Toronto’s two main offensive threats, seven other Maple Leafs players have scored goals, including the forward. William nylander, which leads them with four.
Management has promised to improve Toronto’s depth after last season, and the results of the first four games of the series suggest they have improved in that department. Attackers Joe thornton and Alex galchenyuk each has scored a goal in this series; nor with the Maple Leafs in 2019-2020.
3. Montreal power play against Toronto
The Canadiens’ power play is 0 for 13 in the series and overall hasn’t looked dangerous. Montreal will try to change these fortunes by inserting a defender Erik Gustafsson, a power play specialist, in the lineup for his 2021 playoff debut.
“We have to move the puck faster,” said Gustafsson.
Thank the Maple Leafs penalty killers for disrupting any pace the Canadiens attempted to set by playing an aggressive pressure game, led by Marner, whose speed led to a number of shorthanded chances.
Projected lineup of Canadians
Tomas Tatar – Phillip danault – Brendan Gallagher
Tyler toffoli – Nick suzuki – Cole caufield
Paul Byron – Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Josh Anderson
Joel armia – Eric Staal – Corey perry
Joel edmundson – Jeff petry
Ben chiarot – Shea weber
Erik Gustafsson – Jon merrill
Striped: Michael frolik, Alex Belzile, Brett Kulak, Alexander Romanov, Xavier Ouellet, Cayden Primeau
Injured: Jake evans (not disclosed), Artturi Lehkonen (upper body)
Scheduled Maple Leafs lineup
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – Mitchell Marner
Alex Galchenyuk – Alexandre kerfoot – William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev – Pierre Engvall – Wayne simmonds
Joe Thornton – Adam brooks – Jason spezza
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Jake muzzin – Justin holl
Rasmus Sandin – Zach Bogosian
Striped: Riley nash, Denis malgin, Travis Dermott, Martin Marincin, David rittich, Michael hutchinson
Injured: John tavares (concussion / knee), Nick foligno (lower body) Ben hutton (diseases)
Gustafsson will replace Kulak, a defender. … Tavares skated for about 20 minutes before Thursday morning skating; it was the center’s first time on the ice since being injured in Game 1, but coach Sheldon Keefe said there was no time frame for his return. … Foligno, a forward who is set to miss his third consecutive game, was on the ice with Tavares. … Sandin, a healthy scratch in Game 4, will replace Dermott, a defender.