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Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs Game 4 Top Six Minutes: Coming up empty

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The Canadiens can’t muster much of an offensive attack in a 4-0 loss.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

After some suggestions of lineup changes, what we eventually get is Eric Staal replacing the injured Artturi Lehkonen.

1st period

  • Jesperi Kotkaniemi beats Auston Matthews on the opening faceoff. We’ll take that as a good omen.
  • Jason Spezza cheats in a big way to get half the ice to himself, but Carey Price bests him.
  • First penalty is another stick foul, for Kotkaniemi.
  • Seveal good stops from Price in the opening minutes to keep the Leafs off the board.
  • The most dangerous Habs effort comes from Cole Caufield. That’s what he does.
  • Lots of neautral-zone play in the middle of period as teams look to create a speed advantage.
  • Eric Staal gets surrounded by two Leafs players on a rush. He doesn’t get a shot, but he does earn a power play.
  • Cole Caufield on the first unit. The only decision.
  • And he’s in an off-wing shooting position.
  • Shea Weber fakes a shot and passes instead. The whole Leafs PK is shocked, and it opens up chance.
  • No goal, but there were some good developments.
  • Back to the power play as the Leafs try to play with six skaters.
  • Nick Suzuki defends a two-on-one well, but the Leafs get a second chance from it. A little back-heel deflection out of danger from the multi-talented centreman clears opportunity number two.
  • All in all, that wasn’t a bad period. Now for the big test.

2nd period

  • Alex Galchenyuk makes an excellent backhand pass right at the top of the crease, and William Nylander beats Nick Suzuki to the post to sweep it in the net. It’s 1-0 Leafs, and the second-period woes continue.
  • The Leafs are just shadowing Caufield in the offensive zone now. Maybe Montreal should try that with Nylander....
  • Good break=up by Jon Merrill on another two-on-one for the opponent.
  • Caufield is trying to get open around the net, but Tyler Toffoli doesn’t trust himself to feed a pass into traffic to set him up. That will need to change.
  • A Leafs player gets tossed from the faceoff dot for just slashing Staal’s stick before the puck drops. Another Leaf comes in, does the exact same thing, and we’re back under way.
  • Now it’s time to chase the Leafs around the defensive one for a couple of minutes. Surely there’s a better strategy.
  • Jeff Petry takes a chance at creating a goal, there’s another two-on-one the other way, and Galchenyuk has set up another goal.
  • Paul Byron gets tripped on a potential short-handed three-on-two-, but there’s no call. Joe Thornton makes it 3-0 soon afterward.
  • Canadiens get a power play. Nick Suzuki catches Jack Campbell’s jersey, Brendan Gallagher hits a post, and there’s no goal.
  • If the Canadiens were looking for a better response to how they played in the second periods to this point of the season, somehow I don’t think seeing the worst goal differential of all was the plan for Game 4.

3rd period

  • Hockey is most certainly being played here.
  • Now it’s time for a power play as Joe Thornton heads off.
  • The Leafs have two players watching Caufield. That’s the smartest defence, really.
  • Gallagher tries to get to the net with the puck. Mangled hands and all he’s trying to will something to happen.
  • Zach Hyman intercepts a pass at the blue line, all the Habs are flatfooted, but Price stops the breakaway.
  • Habs are turning up the heat in the final part of the period, but Campbell still isn’t getting forced to make difficult saves.
  • Galchenyuk hits the empty net to seal Game 4 for Toronto.
  • Maybe we’ll see Alexander Romanov in Game 5.

EOTP 3 Stars

3)

2) Might be the easiest playoff shutout since Martin Brodeur only faced six shots in 2001.

1) What is he up to these days anyway?