Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs game recap: Still undefeated in regulation
They put up a good fight, but the Leafs became just the latest victim in the Habs’ run to start the season.
The Montreal Canadiens hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre. Still undefeated in regulation, the Canadiens went into the game hoping to keep their steak alive against their historical foes, and that’s exactly what they did.
Both teams exchanged chances early on, but Artturi Lekhonen had the first real scoring opportunity of the game. The Finnish forward found himself all alone in front of Frederik Andersen but he couldn’t beat the Leafs goaltender. But then it was all Maple Leafs following the opening minutes of the period.
Auston Matthews drew the first penalty of the match, when a tripping call went against Jeff Petry as he broke up a 3-on-2 heading Carey Price’s way. Though the Canadiens successfully killed the penalty, the team continued to have difficulty setting up in the offensive zone and Montreal was constantly hemmed in its own end.
Alexei Emelin hooked Matthews as the period wore down, to prevent the Leafs forward from getting to the front of the net, but Montreal was able survive both the penalty and a mostly one-sided first period without giving up a goal.
The Canadiens started the second period on a better note, as Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher split the Leafs defence but narrowly missed the net. There was also an early injury scare, as Andrew Shaw seemed to be in some pain after hyper-extending his elbow in a neutral-zone collision with Martin Marincin. Luckily, Shaw was able to shake it off and remain in the game.
With Zach Hyman sent off for tripping Emelin deep in the Canadiens zone, the Habs earned their first power play of the game a little over two minutes into the second. Despite getting a couple of good looks, Montreal was unable to score on the man advantage.
Just under five minutes later, Alex Galchenyuk would get another scoring opportunity, and this time, the young centre had no trouble converting on a great effort by Alex Radulov to drive toward the net and pass it past several puck-watching defenders to an open Galchenyuk. His snap shot beat Andersen to give Montreal a 1-0 lead.
Momentum shifted back in Toronto’s favour as the second progressed, but the Maple Leafs couldn’t get anything past Carey Price. The Habs netminder coolly denied a streaking William Nylander during four-on-four play, when both Max Pacioretty and Matt Martin were assessed coincidental roughing minors.
Though the Maple Leafs continued to press for a goal as the second period came to a close, Roman Polak was called for boarding Andrew Shaw and the Canadiens were back on the power play with just under a minute remaining on the clock.
They started the third period on the man advantage, but the Canadiens were unable to double their lead. The Maple Leafs on the other hand, took advantage of a hooking call that didn’t go Alexander Radulov’s way. Nazem Kadri scored a power-play marker to knot the game at one.
Just over a minute later, both Torrey Mitchell and Nazem Kadri were sent off after receiving coincidental slashing minors. Max Pacioretty turned the ensuing four-on-four situation into a four-on-three power play for the Canadiens when he was hooked by Connor Carrick while in on a breakaway.
The Canadiens’ were patient on the man advantage, looking for a quality chance, and it ultimately paid off when Shea Weber’s cannon of a shot blasted past Andersen to restore Montreal’s lead. Radulov and Galchenyuk assisted on the play to double their point totals on the night.
Though Emelin was quickly assessed a questionable holding call a few minutes after the goal, Price allowed the Canadiens to escape the penalty unscathed. Toronto pulled their goaltender with just over two minutes remaining on the clock in a desperate attempt pull even, but the Habs skated off with another two points.
- Alex Radulov continues to shine for the Montreal Canadiens. The Russian forward grabbed two primary assists and played a crucial role in ensuring that the Canadiens were able to come out of this game with the win. Though the Canadiens only controlled around 47% of even-strength shot attempts while he was on the ice, and despite the questionable hooking penalty called against him, Radulov still managed to work his way onto the scoreboard.
- Speaking of possession, the Canadiens only managed to control a concerning 45% of shot attempts during the game. Toronto’s speed gave the Canadiens problems throughout the match, and the Leafs were taking advantage of the lack of footspeed in Montreal’s back end all game long. If not for a couple of brilliant saves by Carey Price, and the Maple Leafs’ lack of discipline, this game could have easily had a different outcome.
- Carey Price has been unbelievable in net. After posting a 10-2-0 record and a .934 SV% during the 2015-16 NHL season, and a 5-0-0 record and a .957 SV% at the World Cup, Price now has a 5-0-0 record this season and is rocking an incredible .949 SV% so far./
After playing their fifth game in eight nights on Saturday, the league-leading Habs get a much-deserved break, and will return to action on Wednesday night versus the Vancouver Canucks.