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Canadiens vs Maple Leafs Top Six Minutes: A re-leaf-ing win

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It came down to the wire, but the Habs held on for the win

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

Pre-Game

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs scare me because they are a bad team that doesn’t know it, and that makes them extremely dangerous.
  • Montreal, on the other hand, is impossible to classify. They aren’t a great team - great teams don’t lose 10-0 - but they aren’t a lousy team either. They are somewhere in between, and have been for a long time; this makes the team decidedly un-dangerous.
  • What are we expecting tonight? Well, for one, somebody’s high profile goal-scoring drought ought to end. Toronto’s Auston Matthews, Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec have combined for one goal in their last thirty-odd games. That one goal was Plekanec’s short-handed marker against Philadelphia on Nov. 5th.
  • Carey Price and Alex Radulov are back in the lineup tonight, and that should be a shot in the arm for a Habs’ team that sorely needs one. Another item to watch for: the immensely offensively talented Charles Hudon on a line with Plekanec and Gallagher. Goal droughts, you said?

First Period

  • I really love broadcaster Kyle Bukauskas. He’s just a boy! He would like us to know that Toronto will be counting on its young stars to carry the game tonight. So is CBC, apparently.
  • Desharnais is centring Pacioretty and Shaw tonight. Michel Therrien sleeps the sleep of a contented man.
  • Brendan Gallagher’s desperation is a key to his game, but he’s really turning it up as this goal drought continues. He’s throwing everything on net. He hasn’t been scoring, but at least his soul patch is offensive.
  • The breakouts on my face are prettier than Montreal’s out of their own zone.
  • Lord Byron the Speedy, dutifully following the rush, hath found himself in a Most Perfecte Place to deposit a Rebound so Juicye. The score has Grown; it is One to Zero for the Goode Guys, Now.
  • Yes, I know the actual Lord Byron didn’t write in Old English. Let me have this one. It’s 1-0 Montreal, at any rate, which is how the period will end.

Second Period

  • Montreal gets a powerplay early. Weber passes to Radulov. Radulov passes to Galchenyuk. I do a funny little dance. It is 2-0.
  • Carey Price isn’t even trying tonight. The fine staff of the Bell Centre have taken to playing the Superman theme following his best saves, but I’m wondering if it’s time to switch over to something more overtly religious.
  • The Galchenyuk line is dominating. They are making Toronto look like a very young team, which of course they are, but the separation is significant.
  • Patches takes a not-so-great penalty. Nylander capitalizes for the Leafs on a nice passing play, and suddenly this game is serious business again.
  • Shea Weber, seizing the first opportunity for revenge, absolutely pulverizes little Willy. Honestly though, goalscorer or not, Shea ruins anybody in that situation.
  • Let’s take a moment to appreciate how great this hockey game is. We can argue about anything else, but this game is objectively good. Drink it in.
  • OK, that’s over. Now we can go back to arguing about Therrien or the Weber trade or Torrey Mitchell’s Corsi or whatever.
  • Emelin’s been a punching bag in Montreal for what seems like eons, but his last season and a half has shown marked improvement. I consider this as he takes a puck to the face and doesn’t miss a shift. He’s solid.
  • The period ends 2-1, setting us up for a dandy of a third. I’m not nervous. Montreal has Carey Price. He’s very good.

Third Period

  • I’m nervous. Toronto has Auston Matthews! He’s very good, apparently.
  • Carey Price goes for a skate, and Toronto slides the puck into the slot. Carey pokes it away with a casual demeanor that most reserve for a dump-in. Is it more fun for him if he only kind of tries?
  • I could post the ice times of Montreal’s forwards, but then we’d have to talk about how Andrew Shaw has more ice time than Brendan Gallagher, and we’d have to get angry. Let’s not, ok? Not while we are winning.
  • Radulov and Galchenyuk, for all their skill and chemistry, have passed up a few golden shots tonight trying for an extra pass. Far be it from me to tell these guys how to be awesome, but at times a more straightforward approach might be good.
  • A bunch of weird things happen. A puck rolls through Price, is cleared by Pacioretty, Martin smokes Beaulieu from behind, they kind of fight? Montreal is on the powerplay.
  • Radulov really, really doesn’t want to shoot. I really, really want him to. The entire PP is naturally focussed on finding Weber for the shot, but it’s a play that gets old fast if the shot isn’t there.
  • Chuck Hudon takes an interference penalty with four left. Wonder where he gets traded to?
  • I don’t mean that derisively. Hudon is a stellar talent, but on Therrien’s team, that kind of play undoes any kind of goodwill you’d built up.
  • Some rough stuff as the siren goes. Emelin puts JVR into the boards with a cross-check, an ugly end to a game that emphasized the newfound skill of two old rivals. These teams will be a treat to watch as the year goes on, but they aren’t on the same level. Not yet. Montreal wins a tight one, 2-1.

EOTP 3 Stars

3. Practice makes perfect

2. Rielly is pretty good. Galchenyuk is a lot...gooder.

1. Brief, yet accurate.

Habs Highlight of the Night

A sweet pass by Radulov finds Galchenyuk for the goal