Toronto Maple Leafs score in overtime to overcome bitter rivals
John Tavares scored in overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. In a battle for second place in the Atlantic division.
Andreas Johnsson, Nikita Zaitsev and William Nylander also scored for the Maple Leafs (34-17-3). Who extended their winning streak to four games. Frederik Andersen stopped 35-of-38 shots.
Andrew Shaw, Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher scored for the Canadiens (31-18-7). Who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Carey Price, with his first loss since Jan. 10, made 28 saves.
Because of the win, Toronto remain second in the Atlantic with 71 points. Montreal are third with 69 points.
Tavares scored the winner 2:17 into overtime with a backhand glove-side on Price. After the Maple Leafs successfully killed off a Canadiens power play to start the extra frame.
The teams combined for three goals in 4:42 to start the game as the newest chapter in one of hockey’s biggest rivalries lived up to expectations.
Shaw made his return to the lineup after missing 15 games with a neck injury and wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Shaw netted his 12th of the season 51 seconds into the game when he deflected Jeff Petry’s wrist shot past Andersen.
Mike Babcock was expectedly overjoyed with the performance. He said: “Obviously, the penalty kill was really good. Our fourth line was outstanding and basically got us two of the goals. We found a way to just hang around and hang around and ended up winning the game. A good game to win and I thought it was tightly contested. I thought there was no room either way, and in the end, we found a way to win.”
Zach Hyman stole the puck from Shea Weber behind the net before finding Johnsson with a perfect backhanded cross-crease pass at 2:20 of the first. Therefore, Johnsson has now scored in three straight games.
Zaitsev gave Toronto a 2-1 lead at 4:42 with a wrist shot from the point on a pass along the boards from Par Lindholm. Price was screened by Frederik Gauthier and never saw the puck.
Montreal scored the equalizer 1:13 into the second period. Tatar surprised Andersen glove-side with a seemingly harmless, floating shot after carrying the puck from deep in his own zone.
Gallagher gave the Canadiens a 3-2 lead after being left all alone in front of goal.
Before Nylander answered immediately, 71 seconds later with a wrist shot from the face-off dot while using Weber as a screen.
Babcock spoke of the atmosphere at the Bell Centre. He said: “I think it is spectacular every night here. In fairness to the fans, when we played them when I first got to Toronto, we were no good. I think they had it down here last year because we never really played a good team playing a good team in the season where it mattered. Therefore tonight was a little different story. Obviously, the crowd was fired up. It was the most people I’ve ever seen here in warmup. They were ready to go tonight.”
The Maple Leafs play again on Sunday evening against the New York Rangers.