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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Canadiens - 10/14/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-3 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at Bell Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Matthews' wicked wrister

TOR@MTL: Matthews controls the puck, snipes shot home

Auston Matthews regains his own turnover in the neutral zone, then whips a shot that beats Carey Price to put the Maple Leafs in front, 2-1

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1. Leafs surrender game's initial goal, but rebound before first intermission with two goals - including dazzler from Matthews. The Leafs and Canadiens began their first meeting of the season in front of a typically loud crowd in Montreal, and it took the Habs 2:19 to score the initial goal of the night when blueliner Jeff Petry beat netminder Frederik Andersen.

However, the visitors battled back toward the middle of the first period and took the lead thanks to a two-goal burst of offence in a 44-second span: first, winger James van Riemsdyk scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season at 7:32 off a quick shot following a faceoff in Montreal's zone; then, centre Auston Matthews pulled even with van Riemsdyk by registering his fourth of the year on a magnificent individual effort. Matthews took the puck in the Leafs' zone, flipped it up the ice, took it back just inside the Habs' blueline, and ripped a sizzling shot past goalie Carey Price to give the Buds their first lead.

Yet again, Matthews showed why he is one of the NHL's brightest young stars: his vision, hand-eye coordination and ability to finish plays he started himself are all as good as just about anyone in the game. And all those factors came together to give the Leafs fans in attendance at Bell Centre a reason to make themselves heard.

 

2. Canadiens even the score late in first, regain lead midway through second. The Canadiens were playing their second home game of the season Saturday and still looking for their first victory in front of their fans - and, as is normally the case in a hockey mecca like Montreal, some of their top players were facing major pressure to step up. Two of them responded after Matthews scored, and the result turned into a Habs lead midway through the game. 

The Canadiens knotted the score at two goals apiece at the 16:49 mark of the first on forward Alex Galchenyuk's first goal of the year. And following Galchenyuk's power play marker, Montreal took a 3-2 lead at 11:33 of the middle frame when centre Jonathan Drouin scored his first career regular-season goal as a Canadien on a slick setup pass from blueliner Karl Alzner.

 The Habs may have entered the game seeking only their second win of the season, but they're a proud franchise that finished the 2016-17 campaign atop the Atlantic Division, and you knew they weren't going to fight tooth-and-nail to get the win on a Saturday night against their arch-rivals from Toronto.

Video: TOR@MTL: Marleau jabs in the rebound to tie the game

3. Second video replay's the charm as Marleau ties it for Leafs prior to second intermission. Toronto weathered the storm the Canadiens brought to take a one-goal lead midway through the second, and soon pressured Montreal in their own zone. That pushback resulted in two consecutive video replays on apparent Leafs goals: Toronto had its first one rejected in replay when video confirmed the on-ice officials' call that Matthews had used a high-stick when batting the puck past Price; but the second replay went in the Buds' favour, as cameras showed winger Patrick Marleau shoving the puck into the corner of the Habs' net for a split second before Petry swatted it back out.

At first, the referees ruled Marleau hadn't scored, but they reversed their decision thanks to the review, and Marleau had his third goal of the year at the 12:40 mark. Of more importance - Toronto quickly evened the score and cut off any momentum Montreal built with Drouin's goal.

Video: TOR@MTL: Andersen turns aside Plekanec twice

4. Habs turn up pressure in third, but Buds hang tough, force extra time. Montreal spent a good deal of the third period in Toronto's zone - limiting the Leafs to just one shot on Price through the first 12 minutes of the frame, while getting eight shots on Andersen in that span - and outshot the visitors 13-6 in the period and 33-21 through 60 minutes of action. But the Canadiens couldn't get the game-winner in regulation time, as Andersen proved resilient and held the line for his teammates to force overtime.

Video: TOR@MTL: Matthews goes short side for OT game-winner

5. Nylander starts game-winning play, Matthews finishes with brilliant shot as Leafs get back in win column. Once overtime began, Leafs coach Mike Babcock went with Matthews, linemate William Nylander and blueliner Jake Gardiner, and the contest quickly turned into an end-to-end track meet, which was not something the Habs wanted. That much became clear when Nylander made a terrific backcheck, moved down the full length of the ice with the puck, and flipped it across to Matthews on a 2-on-1 rush. Matthews tapped the puck out of the air, had it on his stick for barely a second, and fired it past Price to end the contest in Toronto's favour.

The goal was Matthews' fifth of the season - and Nylander's fourth assist of the year - and was yet another example of how incredibly talented the 20-year-old truly is. Don't kid yourself, it takes a team to win games at the NHL level, but any team with skill like Matthews is going to have a tremendous shot at accomplishing big things. Leafs Nation has every right to be thrilled he's wearing Blue and White.
 

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