TORONTO — Paul Byron scored the short-handed winner from his knees with beneath eight minutes left in regulation and Carey Worth made 35 saves because the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Thursday within the opener of a much-anticipated first-round playoff sequence between Unique Six rivals.
Josh Anderson had the opposite purpose for Montreal, which completed 18 factors again of first-place Toronto within the NHL’s one-off Canadian-based North Division in the course of the pandemic-shortened common season.
William Nylander replied for the Leafs, who bought 28 stops from Jack Campbell in his playoff debut.
With Tomas Tatar off within the field for high-sticking and the Leafs seeking to take the lead, Byron raced handed rookie defenceman Rasmus Sandin, who tried to pull the Montreal ahead down, earlier than roofing a shot upstairs on Campbell with 7:46 remaining within the third interval.
A bodily, intense begin was dropped at a standstill halfway via the primary when Leafs captain John Tavares was concerned in a scary collision and needed to be stretchered off the ice.
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Assembly within the post-season for the primary time since 1979, the storied franchises now flip their consideration to Sport 2 of the best-of-seven matchup, which works Saturday again at Scotiabank Enviornment.
The Canadiens bought a lift with the return of Worth (concussion), captain Shea Weber (upper-body damage) and Brendan Gallagher (damaged thumb). The Leafs, in the meantime, had defenceman Zach Bogosian (upper-body damage) again within the lineup, whereas centre Riley Nash (knee) made his Toronto debut after being acquired previous to the commerce deadline.
Tavares was injured at 10:29 of the primary after taking an preliminary hit from Canadiens defenceman Ben Chiarot within the impartial zone that felled Toronto’s captain earlier than he took an unintentional knee to the face from on-rushing Montreal winger Corey Perry.
Trainers and docs from each groups rushed to take care of the veteran ahead, encouraging him to remain on the ice as he struggled to rise up. Tavares, who was taken to hospital, provided a thumbs up as he was stretchered off inside an empty and silent Scotiabank Enviornment.
Though the damage was unintentional, Perry dropped the gloves with Leafs winger Nick Foligno as quickly as play resumed.
Montreal appeared to push the shock of the Tavares damage apart quickest and grabbed the lead at 12:08 when Anderson cut up Bogosian and Sandin earlier than shifting in alone and firing in off Campbell’s publish.
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With no playoff sequence win since 2004, the Leafs ended the interval on an influence play, however Worth was bailed out by one in every of his posts on a shot by NHL purpose chief Auston Matthews.
Toronto, which had defenceman Jake Muzzin stretchered off in final summer season’s post-season bubble, tied it up at 4:28 of the second on a sequence that began with a terrific Foligno forecheck. Morgan Rielly’s level shot hit a physique in entrance and fell to Nylander, who slid his shot previous Worth.
Nylander had an ideal likelihood to place the house aspect in entrance on one other energy play later within the interval, however may solely discover iron.
Campbell, who bought the beginning forward of Frederik Andersen following a record-breaking marketing campaign, then denied Tyler Toffoli together with his glove on one other Montreal man benefit earlier than Joel Armia sailed a backhand up excessive and large.
Rielly blocked an Anderson likelihood early within the third with Campbell out of place earlier than the Leafs killed off a Mitch Marner penalty for delay of sport.
Nylander took one other delay of sport penalty _ Toronto’s third of the night time _ a few minutes later, however Toronto survived as soon as once more. Marner was then robbed by Worth’s blocker with the netminder at full stretch on a 2-on-1 with Nylander earlier than Byron buried the winner.
Toronto bought an influence play with 3:18 left when Phillip Danault was whistled for tripping, however Worth stopped Nylander from the slot and Zach Hyman from in shut with Campbell on the bench for an additional attacker earlier than the guests closed it out regardless of extra stress at 6 on 5.
The vibe exterior Scotiabank Enviornment was nothing just like the leadup to a traditional playoff sequence — particularly between two legacy organizations — as COVID-19 restrictions proceed to maintain followers in Canada from attending in particular person.
Maple Leaf Sq., usually a gathering spot for rabid crowds to observe video games on an enormous out of doors display, had just some jersey-clad followers milling about a few hours earlier than puck drop.
Groups within the U.S. have all had some spectators at their playoffs video games, and the Canadiens have been given the inexperienced gentle by Quebec’s authorities to permit 2,500 followers into the Bell Centre for Sport 6 if the sequence goes that far.
Thursday’s tilt was the primary within the post-season between the groups in 42 years, and opened simply the third head-to-head sequence for the reason that NHL began to increase again in 1967 after Toronto beat Montreal to safe the franchise’s final Stanley Cup.
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