In overtime again, Canadiens force Game 7 with Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs have seen this film before, and they never like the ending.
After taking a 3-1 series lead, the Maple Leafs lost their next two, and now will host the Canadiens in Game 7 on Monday night (7 p.m. ET; CNBC).
Jesperi Kotkaniemi beat Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell in the slot with 15:15 gone in overtime to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win, and the second straight overtime win that stymied a Leafs comeback.
Toronto had forced overtime at all, much like in Game 5. The Habs took a 2-0 lead, only for Jason Spezza and T.J. Brodie to score late in the third and make the extra frame possible.
Unlike Game 5, the Maple Leafs dominated the period. They outshot the Canadiens 13-2, with Montreal not getting a chance on net until 11 minutes were gone.
They just needed the second shot to win it, though, and Kotkaniemi ensured there would be a Game 7, the second of the First Round.
The two last teams standing in the First Round played two scoreless frames before the Canadiens broke through in the third. In front of fans for the first time all season -- for any of the games in Canada -- the Canadiens carried the pace throughout almost the entire contest.
Corey Perry finally broke the silence with a goal 5:26 into the third. After a lengthy review, it stood. On an ensuing 5-on-3 following a Mitch Marner delay of game, Tyler Toffoli put the Habs ahead 2-0.
Toronto was frazzled early, and made plenty of mistakes. They never shot on Carey Price more than nine times in a single period, even once trailing. The Leafs went 0-for-4 on the power play, while both of the Habs regulation goals came on the man advantage.
It almost didn’t matter; after the Maple Leafs comeback, the Canadiens looked deflated. They barely got any chances in overtime, and they finished the game with just four defensemen.
In overtime, though, it just takes one shot to go home as winners. Price stood on his head with 13 saves in the frame, plenty of them challenging. They rewarded him with a goal down the other end.
Of course, blown leads in the first round is nothing new for Toronto; famously, the 4-1 blown lead against the Bruins in 2013. They’ve been stuck in first round purgatory for seemingly a decade.
They nearly closed out Game 5 with a dramatic comeback from down 3-0, only to lose on a 2-0 breakaway a minute into overtime. Instead, they were forced into a Game 6 situation in Montreal, in the most boisterous environment Canada has had all year.
Toronto will host Game 7 on Monday night, and the winner has a date with the surprising Winnipeg Jets, who will have had a week to recover after their stunning First Round sweep of the Edmonton Oilers.
All the pressure is on the Leafs team that has been projected to win that division the entire season and were huge favorites in the First Round. Montreal ensured that it won’t be easy on them.
After all, anything can happen in a Game 7.
MAPLE LEAFS VS. CANADIENS (Series tied 3-3) - series livestream link
Game 1: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Game 2: Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Game 3: Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Game 4: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 0
Game 5: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Game 6: Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 2 (OT)
Monday, May 31: Canadiens at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET (CNBC)