Marner, Tavares lift Maple Leafs to 7-1 win

TORONTO -- Mitchell Marner scored twice and had an assist to set a career high for points in a season with 98, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 7-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.

Marner, who ended a season-high three-game point drought, passed his previous single-season career high of 97 set last season with three games remaining in the regular season.
"It's definitely a cool thing (to have a chance for 100 points)," Marner said. "I try not to focus on stuff like that, but it's hard when you're this close and the opportunity is there. We'll see, I'll just go out there and try to play my game and see what happens.
"I thought we just played a full 60 minutes, did the right thing. I don't think we cheated much for offensive; we didn't give up much. That's how you've got to play."
Auston Matthews had a goal and three assists, John Tavares scored twice, and Ryan O'Reilly and Erik Gustafsson each had three assists for the Maple Leafs (47-21-11), who are assured of finishing second in the Atlantic Division and will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ilya Samsonov made 20 saves.
"The feeling of our group and how they were talking to one another and how focused they were on playing the way they need to play, I really liked that today," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. "It was a real good feeling behind the bench in terms of how the players themselves, we set the plan and talked about what the expectations were going into the game, and they went out and executed, and made it happen."

MTL@TOR: Matthews fires it in from the circle

Maple Leafs emergency backup goalie Jett Alexander, who was signed to an amateur tryout prior to the game, relieved Samsonov and played the final 1:10. He did not face a shot on goal.
"It was pretty special, pretty nerve-racking obviously, but something I'll remember," Alexander said.
Johnathan Kovacevic scored, and Sam Montembeault made 39 saves for the Canadiens (31-43-6), who have lost five of six (1-5-0).
"Better than that," Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said when asked what he was expecting from his team prior to the game.
Marner put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 at 9:08 of the first period on the power play when he shot blocker side from the high slot after a give-and-go with Matthews.
Tavares made it 2-0 at 15:16, one-timing a pass from Marner, who was on the goal line, from the top of the goal crease.
Toronto outshot Montreal 18-1 in the first period.

MTL@TOR: Tavares doubles Maple Leafs' lead with PPG

"It's definitely frustrating," Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "Especially for these games, we get excited. It's Saturday night in Toronto, it's a big rival.
"We get excited for these games, so to go out there and leave 'Monty' out to dry and just play the game we did, it's frustrating. They just came with a lot of pace, which we expected, but we didn't respond well to it."
Kovacevic cut it to 2-1 at 2:28 of the second period when his shot from the point deflected off Marner.
The Maple Leafs went up 3-1 at 3:56 after O'Reilly's centering pass deflected off William Nylander in the slot over Montembeault's right shoulder.
Marner extended it to 4-1 at 4:52 with his 30th goal and 98th point of the season. After setting up Michael Bunting for a shot in the slot which he put off the goal post, Marner backhanded the rebound off the back of Montembeault from just above the goal line.
"We would love to see (getting to 100 points) happen, that's for sure," Tavares said of Marner. "He's right there, and it's extremely well deserved for the impact he makes in every facet of the game, and the type of player he is. It's another First All-Star team and Selke Trophy-worthy type of season. So, good all around, and I have no doubt that if he continues the way he plays and what he does, he'll get there."

MTL@TOR: Marner scores his 2nd goal of the game

Tavares made it 5-1 at 6:01 of the third period with his 35th goal, backhanding a loose puck in the crease on the power play.
Matthews extended it to 6-1 at 13:51 after he got past Jake Evans at the top of the left face-off circle and shot high glove from the hash marks.
Bunting made it 7-1 at 16:50, deflecting Matthews' shot at the top of the goal crease on the power play.
Toronto went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
"I thought we did a great job," O'Reilly said. "Especially against a team that's out of the playoffs. They play a little looser with the chances, but I thought we did just an excellent job of not giving them much. We got out of that first period, we give up just a shot. That's what you have to do."
NOTES: The Maple Leafs played without defensemen Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie, who each sat out due to rest… Marner reached 30 goals for the second time in his seven-season NHL career. His career high of 35 was set last season in 72 games.