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The Canadiens played a perfect 20 minutes, then disappeared

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Unfortunately for them, the standard length of an NHL game is three times that amount.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens played a perfect game against the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. They controlled the shot attempts, the shots, the scoring chances, and the high-danger scoring chances. They dominated a team that is ostensibly superior to them in impressive fashion.

Unfortunately, they only played that game for the first 20 minutes of a game that lasts three times that.

Aside from an early second-period goal by Nick Suzuki — one which Jack Campbell probably should have stopped — the Leafs took over the game essentially from the moment the puck dropped to start that frame. If you just read the stat sheet without watching the game, you could come to the conclusion that the teams switched sweaters during the first intermission.

Where everything heavily favoured the Canadiens in the first, the complete polar opposite was true for the second and third periods. Scoring chances were 68.46% in favour of the Leafs. High-danger chances were 66.67% again in favour of the Leafs. This could be understandable for the time period where the Leafs were trying to come back from being down 2-0, but it continued well after they had gained a one-goal lead of their own.

The Habs just quit. Call it playing not to lose, or sitting on a lead, they thought they had enough to win the game. It’s either that or they just didn’t have enough in the tank to play the final 40 minutes. An extremely disappointing result after playing a first 20 minutes so convincing that the normally potent Toronto attack could barely get shots on goal, let alone scoring chances.

Jake Allen didn’t have the strongest game of his tenure in Montreal, but the ice being so tilted in favour of the Leafs after the first is the real concern. Sure, a few extra saves could completely change the outcome of that game, but it’s hard to blame goaltending when they were outplayed that badly.

Perhaps it is a little unnecessary to read much into a game that has virtually no playoff implications, particularly given the amount of key players injured on Montreal’s side. But regardless of the schedule and injuries, it is incredibly frustrating to watch them expose Toronto’s vulnerabilities for 20 minutes before disappearing.

Hopefully they can take the great things they were doing in the first period last night and extrapolate that to a full night’s effort. One good period just isn’t going to cut it against these Leafs.