2021 North Division Semifinals Game 6
TOR leads 3-2
How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EDT / 4:30 PM PDT
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
The Canadiens needed a better offensive showing — or any offensive display at all after getting shut out in Game 4 — to get back in the series with the Maple Leafs. The player who made that happen was unlikely given what he’d done in the regular season, but Joel Armia’s two-goal performance in the opening minutes wasn’t out of character for a player who finished near the top of the scoring list for Montreal in last year’s post-season. He and Corey Perry proved to be a real handful for the Leafs, and the Canadiens had a cushion as they started the dreaded second period.
For the first time all series they came out even after the middle frame, and carried a two-goal lead into the final period. They were unable to keep the Leafs’ offence at bay in the third, and the game was tied after 60 minutes.
The Leafs must have been feeling good going into overtime as the team that has mastered frames with the long change, but that mood quickly soured when Cole Caufield intercepted a pass in his own zone and started a two-on-zero the other way. Some tactical passes back and forth between the two took Jack Campbell out of the play, and the goal added another game onto the series.
Tale of the Tape
|48.1% (10th)||Corsi-for pct.||51.9% (7th)|
|1.60 (16th)||Goals per game||3.00 (7th)|
|3.00 (10th)||Goals against per game||1.60 (1st)|
|0.0% (16th)||PP%||17.7% (11th)|
|82.4% (6th)||PK%||100.0% (1st)|
It was yet another display of the confidence Caufield has in the biggest games. It was almost cruel that fans weren’t in attendance at the Bell Centre when he showed off that trait with his first overtime goal back on May 1, and then did the same two nights later against Toronto. But tonight the fans who have been watching him hit the ground running in his NHL career will get a chance to show their appreciation in person for the team’s most exciting prospect.
You can expect the crowd of 2,500 to buzz in anticipation whenever he gets a sniff of an offensive chance tonight, and the young showman will feed off that energy. All the players will get a boost from the atmosphere, which could be just enough to inspire that one extra stride that makes a difference.
After fitful starts for all four of Montreal’s lines, they’ve finally begun to all get on the same page. It surely helps that Dominique Ducharme has returned to more familiar duos and trios to revive some chemistry. The top line of Tomas Tatar, Phillip Danault, and Brendan Gallagher was finally looking like its elite self on Thursday with its share of the shot attempts approaching 60%. Everything else falls into place when those three are on their game, and a burst of offence from the fourth line had a massive impact in a close-fought game.
Given that we saw the most offence all series from Montreal in Game 5, the coach may be a bit reluctant to get Jake Evans and/or Artturi Lehkonen back in if they’re healthy, but that could depend on some nagging injuries we don’t know about for other players. Erik Gustafsson may not be coming out after he was very effective in a limited role, sporting the highest scoring-chances-or percentage at the end of the night. It was a bit of a perplexing move at the time, and even thought his addition did nothing to help the power play (Montreal is the only team without a man-advantage goal) he still found a way to help the team earn the win.
If Montreal forces a Game 7, Gustafsson and his fellow blue-liners will be a big reason why. If they can clean up some odd-man rushes against and allow Carey Price to see the shots coming his way. the slowly improving Habs will have their opportunity to pull this off.