2021 North Division Semifinals Game 2
MTL leads series 1-0
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: CNBC
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
It was the moment the players — and fans — have been looking forward to for ... well, ever. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Habs versus Leafs.
In Thursday’s series-opener, both teams came out flying, moving so swiftly that the announcer could barely keep up with what was happening. It was fast, bodies were being thrown, shot attempts were made.
It was the fun kind of chaos.
Then it all came screeching to a halt by a freak accident that ended with Maple Leafs captain John Tavares being carried off the ice on a stretcher. An innocent body check from Ben Chiarot in the neutral zone knocked Tavares to the ice. On his way down, Corey Perry, who was skating full tilt toward the puck, couldn’t manoeuvre fast enough to avoid a collision and ran knee-first into Tavares’ head, knocking him unconscious.
After many minutes of both teams holding their breath, Tavares gave a thumbs up as he was rolled off the ice.
Tale of the Tape
|54.5% (2nd)||Corsi-for pct.||51.0% (11th)|
|2.00 (12th)||Goals per game||1.00 (16th)|
|1.00 (3rd)||Goals against per game||2.00 (6th)|
|0% (14th)||PP%||0% (15th)|
|100% (4th)||PK%||100% (5th)|
Immediately following the next faceoff, Nick Foligno made Perry, who was “sick to his stomach,” following the hit, pay for his accident by dropping the gloves. That’s all I can say about that as to not have my blood pressure skyrocket all over again.
Not long after, it was Josh Anderson — who definitely brought his game right out of the gate like the Powerhorse he is — who got the game back on track by splitting Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Sandin and opening up the scoring just over seven minutes in. And that was just one of many rush chances this speedy Hab made on Thursday.
As expected, Auston Matthews let the one-timers rip time and time again, but he wasn’t able to get any of them past Carey Price. Morgan Rielly played goaltender for a quick second to block an Anderson shot that would have easily gotten past an out-of-position Jack Campbell.
Sheldon Keefe will have to continue playing the shuffle game now that he’s without his number-two centre. This means even more pressure will be put on the top line of Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman and Matthews, who played 27:23, 24:37 and 23:57 minutes, respectively, during Thursday’s showdown.
Toronto will be without their captian indefinitely, but the good news is that Tavares was conscious and communicating well after being taken to the hospital on Thursday evening. He’s since been discharged and is resting at home under the supervision of physicians.
On the Montreal side, Jake Evans is day-to-day after suffering an injury during his first shift. It’s unknown whether it’s an upper- or lower-body injury, but if Evans can’t suit up for Game 2, Jesperi Kotkaniemi is waiting in the wings.
In Game 1, the Canadiens executed in all three zones and it was a full team effort that got them the 2-1 win to start the series. They laid 28 hits in the first period alone, Paul Byron notched the game-winning goal with a never-say-die shot from his knees with seven minutes left in the third, and Carey Price made 35 saves and kept his team in the lead until the final buzzer sounded despite being peppered by shots toward the end.
Heading into Game 1, the Canadiens said they were ready, and they weren’t kidding. Hopefully they’re ready for more of the same in Game 2.