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Canadiens Defeat Maple Leafs in Game 7; Advance to Face Jets in Round 2

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 1, 2021

Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens are moving on to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in Monday's decisive Game 7.

The result completed Montreal's comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, making the Canadiens the 26th team to pull off the feat in NHL history.

Brendan Gallagher and Corey Perry scored in the second period to power Montreal.

Gallagher's wrist shot found the five hole on Jack Campbell with 3:02 off the clock in the period.

NHL @NHL

Brendan Gallagher (@BGALLY17) gets the #Game7 opening goal! #StanleyCup<br><br>🇺🇸: https://t.co/LcI8Hsqs1r @NHLonNBCSports<br>🇨🇦: https://t.co/0cXuacT6MQ @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/vVEqclqN9I

The Habs then tallied their third power-play goal in two games. Perry was in the right place to tip home the puck on a shot by Nick Suzuki.

NHL on NBC Sports @NHLonNBCSports

Make it 2️⃣ for the @CanadiensMTL. 🚨#GoHabsGo | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/dtED3mYplD

Tyler Toffoli added a third after the Leafs pulled their goalie in the third period before William Nylander netted a consolation goal for Toronto.


Notable Performers

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Carey Price, G, Canadiens: 30 saves, .968 save percentage

Eric Staal, C, Canadiens: two assists, one takeaway

Brendan Gallagher, RW, Canadiens: one goal, four shots

Jack Campbell, G, Maple Leafs: 20 saves, .909 save percentage


Price Sets the Tone

Prior to Gallagher's opener, it looked like this wouldn't be the Leafs' night. And a lot of that had to do with Carey Price. The Habs netminder was excellent between the pipes.

Bruce Arthur @bruce_arthur

Every Carey Price glove save is like a bat flip

dom at the athletic @domluszczyszyn

carey price is too locked in right now. nothing is getting by him tonight

Price gave up seven goals in Games 2 and 4, but this marked a return to his Hart Memorial and Vezina Trophy-winning form of 2014-15.

Zech Pluister @ZechPluister

The two things that gave Montreal the edge:<br>1) The leafs losing Tavares was huge, they’re not the same team.<br>2) Carey Price looks like the goalie who won the 14/15 Vezina.

Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun

I remember being in Sochi in 2014, media sits closer to the ice at Olympic tournaments, and catching Carey Price during a TV timeout yawning during the gold medal game vs Sweden. I kid you not. That’s always stuck with me. Not sure pressure bothers that guy.

This was a workmanlike showing by the Canadiens.

They turned defense into offense to get their first goal, as Eric Staal's takeaway on Mitchell Marner culminated in Gallagher's wrister. Having struggled with the man advantage through the first five games, Montreal carried its Game 6 power-play success into Monday.

And after being left for dead by many, the Habs look dangerous.


Leafs' Postseason Woes Continue

You have to wonder how much the weight of history burdened Toronto even though most of its players weren't responsible for past playoff heartbreak. When so much of the conversation around a team is about a title drought and years of disappointment, members of the organization will inevitably hear about it.

For Leafs fans, the sense of foreboding likely started as soon as Gallagher's shot hit the back of the net. When Perry doubled the Canadiens' lead, it was a fait accompli.

Between the Leafs' performance this season and their 3-1 lead, this collapse will sting more so than recent playoff exits. As the cliche goes, it's the hope that kills you, and there were many reasons to think things would play out differently.

Scott Wheeler @scottcwheeler

Across an 82-game season, the Leafs paced for 113 points, a 27-point gap over the Canadiens.<br><br>And they’re going to throw it all away and none of the excuses will matter. One period for 34 and 16 to flip the script. Otherwise it’s one of the great failures for an org of so many.

Alykhan Khamisa Ravjiani @AlykhanKR

The Leafs will NEVER have an easier path to a Conference Finals in their entire existence. <br><br>That’s what makes this one even more painful. #StanleyCup

Emma Vigeland @EmmaVigeland

2-0 at the end of the second. There’s just no way they’re coming back from this this, I’m sorry. It’s too Leafs. Double down on Montreal

The Maple Leafs haven't won a playoff series since 2004, and their Stanley Cup drought was extended another year with this latest postseason exit:

ESPN @espn

THE CANADIENS COME BACK FROM DOWN 3-1 IN THE SERIES AND ELIMINATE TORONTO 🤯<br><br>The Maple Leafs have now lost eight straight series-clinching games and extend their league-leading 54-year championship drought. pic.twitter.com/3HHrco6DRU

The bulk of the roster is signed for at least one more season, and there aren't many aging vets, so the championship window isn't slamming shut.

But simply running it back might not cut it after this result. Marner and Auston Matthews were held to one goal in the series.


What's Next?

The Canadiens will meet the Winnipeg Jets in the second round. Winnipeg swept the Edmonton Oilers.

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