TORONTO - The Canadiens have a prime opportunity to play spoiler on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena.
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Here's everything you need to know heading into Game 7:
The Canadiens staved off elimination for a second straight game on Saturday night, sending the Bell Centre faithful home happy with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory. Dominique Ducharme's squad certainly made things exciting, surrendering a two-goal lead in the third period again before Jesperi Kotkaniemi came up clutch at the 15:15 mark of the extra frame with the game-winner. Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli both scored power play goals for Montreal in regulation, while goaltender Carey Price delivered an outstanding 41-save performance between the pipes. Kotkaniemi's season-saving snipe, though, was the perfect ending to an event that saw fans inside the building for the first time since March 2020 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Habs forced a Game 7 after facing a 3-1 series deficit for the fourth time in franchise history, claiming the two most recent winner-take-all showdowns by eliminating Boston (2004) and Washington (2010) in the opening round.
This will be the second all-time Game 7 between the storied franchises and the first since the 1964 Semifinals when Hall of Famer Dave Keon registered a hat trick to lead Toronto to a 3-1 win at Montreal Forum.
Keeping things interesting: The Canadiens were in prime position to come away with a victory in regulation on Saturday night until forward Jason Spezza and defenseman T.J. Brodie scored 5:14 apart in the second half of the third period to force OT. Fortunately, things worked out for the best in the extra frame. Montreal became the first team in NHL history to surrender a multi-goal, third-period lead in consecutive games while facing elimination, and win each contest. It's an impressive feat for a club that prides itself on overcoming adversity and always fighting to the finish. The Canadiens also became the ninth team in NHL history - and second in as many years - to win two straight games in overtime while facing elimination. The Philadelphia Flyers achieved the feat last year against the New York Islanders.
Flying Finn: No member of the Canadiens has more goals in the series than Kotkaniemi, who leads the way with three. The 20-year-old centreman, who was a healthy scratch in Game 1, scored the biggest tally of his career to date when he converted a perfect feed from Paul Byron with the season on the line. It's safe to say that Kotkaniemi loves rising to the occasion in the postseason. The Pori native has seven goals in 15 playoff appearances. Interestingly enough, the Canadiens are the first team in NHL history to earn consecutive overtime victories in a postseason with each winner scored by a player age 21 or younger. It was 21-year-old Nick Suzuki who sealed the deal last Thursday night in Toronto, of course, affording the Canadiens the chance to tie the series in front of the best fans in the League over the weekend. This is turning into quite a redemption story for Kotkaniemi after being held to just 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) in 56 games during the regular season.
Carey being Carey: While Price was a rock in regulation, he was equally impressive in overtime, turning aside 13 shots and setting the stage for Kotkaniemi to deliver the knockout punch on the Canadiens' second shot of the stanza on Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell. The 33-year-old Anahim Lake, BC native improved his record to 9-6 in elimination games. His nine career wins under those circumstances are the most in franchise history. Henrik Lundqvist, who boasts a 16-11 record in elimination games, is the only active goaltender with more career wins in that scenario. Lundqvist's 16 victories when a series is on the line are the most in NHL history as well. Price enters Game 7 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in six postseason outings this year.
- The Canadiens were 0-for-15 on the power play in the series until Perry buried a loose puck with Campbell out of position at the 5:26 mark of the third period. It was Perry's first playoff goal in a Habs uniform. Toffoli's goal with a two-man advantage came just 1:17 later. It was also his first postseason goal with Montreal.
- The Canadiens' defensemen hadn't recorded a point in the series until Jeff Petry collected the secondary helper on Toffoli's goal. He's still the lone blueliner on the roster with a point heading into Game 7.
- After missing four straight games due to injury, Jake Evans logged 23:05 of ice time in his return to the lineup playing alongside centreman Phillip Danault and right-winger Brendan Gallagher. Evans dished out five of Montreal's 44 hits. For his part, Tomas Tatar was a healthy scratch.
- Captain Shea Weber led all players on both teams with 37:05 of ice time in Game 6.
What's on tap?
Today's fan activations presented by four pillar partners RONA, Scotiabank, Lafleur and Ford are:
|Time ||Channel ||Programming |
|10:00 a.m. || ||Virtual 50/50 opens. Possibility of multiple $5,000 jackpots! |
|4:00 - 6:00 p.m. ||💉 ||Free tattoos at Adrenaline Montreal |
|6:00 - 6:25 p.m. || ||Pregame Q&A with Marc Dumont on Twitter. Watch and win! |
|6:25 p.m. || ||Virtual T-shirt toss winners announced on Twitter. Enter now! |
|6:30 - 7:00 p.m. || ||Pregame concert on Twitch with DOMENO. Watch and win! |
|7:00 p.m. || ||Game 7 @ TOR |
Details on all of the team's postseason initiatives, including schedules and direct links to the appropriate content platforms, can be found at canadiens.com/playoffs.
At the other end
The Maple Leafs appeared to be in complete control of the series with a 3-1 advantage, but the tables have clearly turned. Toronto has been playing from behind over the last two games and failed to eliminate their Original Six rivals. The club's playoff woes are well documented, having most recently advanced to the second round all the way back in 2004. If Sheldon Keefe's contingent loses on Monday night, it would be a massive upset given the Maple Leafs' stellar play throughout the regular season when they finished atop the North Division.
The resiliency is there, but the production isn't: Like the Canadiens, the Maple Leafs don't give up easily when the going gets tough. Keefe's squad has successfully found ways to rally over the last two games and give Montreal a scare. But, Ducharme's group is doing a masterful job of keeping Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner from doing any damage offensively. They're both getting their fair share of shots on Price, but they aren't putting up points. Matthews has only four points in the series (1 goal, 3 assists), as does Marner (4 assists). Matthews, who claimed the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy this season with a League-leading 41 goals, is likely exceptionally frustrated. His lone tally was over a week ago in Game 2 and he has only one assist in the last four games. All 17 of Marner's shots on goal, meanwhile, have been turned aside by Price. If Ducharme's squad can keep that trend going in Game 7, they could very well punch their ticket to a second-round matchup with the Winnipeg Jets.
Picking up the slack: With Matthews and Marner being stymied, William Nyander has been the Maple Leafs' most consistent offensive player in the series, but the Canadiens finally kept him off the scoresheet on Saturday night. That snapped the 25-year-old Swede's five-game point streak. Nevertheless, Nylander still leads Toronto in playoff scoring with seven points (4 goals, 3 assists), one point clear of centreman Alexander Kerfoot (1 goal, 5 assists), who assisted on Spezza's goal that kickstarted the comeback. Speaking of Spezza, the 37-year-old veteran ranks second on the roster behind Nylander with three goals in the series.
Turning up the heat: Expect the Maple Leafs to up their physicality game on Monday night. Montreal has distributed 92 more hits than Toronto through six games, holding a 264-172 advantage in that department. That aggressiveness has paid dividends for the Canadiens, so Keefe could instruct his players to respond in kind. Josh Anderson leads Montreal with 24 hits in the series, while Matthews is Toronto's leader with 22. The Canadiens added size during the offseason for moments just like this. No doubt the first few minutes of the contest will pack a serious punch, especially with the adrenaline running high on either side.
Here are a few key stats from the series so far:
|MONTREAL || ||TORONTO |
|11 ||Goals ||17 |
|175 ||Shots ||205 |
|264 ||Hits ||172 |
|11.1% ||PP% ||14.3% |
|85.7% ||PK% ||88.9% |
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on CBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and listen to all the action on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.