Here we go. Game 7. Are you ready?
When the Maple Leafs took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, no one expected it to reach this moment but, well, here we are. Montreal won Games 5 and 6 in overtime, setting up the ultimate showdown north of the border.
“Clear your mind. You’ve got to enjoy the moment and leave it out on the ice every shift,” said veteran Joe Thornton, who has played in a Game 7 or two (and is the only one to win the ultimate game on Toronto’s roster) in his long-storied career. “It starts with the puck drop and ends when that whistle blows. It’s going to be a real fun night for us.”
I’m sure it will be more fun for the Maple Leafs and their fans if they skate away with a win and advance to the second round for a meeting with the Jets. It has been 17 years since the franchise won a playoff series and a few of those losses were in the ultimate final game of a series.
But this Game 7 is slightly different than other games. For the first time in over a year, fans will be in Scotiabank Arena to soak it all in — the good and the bad. Fully vaccinated healthcare workers, 550 of them, will be in attendance for Game 7.
“It’s terrific,” said coach Sheldon Keefe. “Obviously, it’ll be nice to have their presence in the building tonight in terms of the game and it’ll increase energy in the building.”
While fans will be back, Toronto will be without defenseman Jake Muzzin, who was injured in the second period of Game 6 and is out three weeks. Rasmus Sandin will slot into his spot.
On the Canadiens’ end of the rink, the club is playing with house money after finishing fourth in the division and clawing their way back into this series. Carey Price (no shocker here) has been outstanding with a .926 save percentage and a 1.57 High-Density Goals Saved Above Average at 5v5 (per Natural Stat Trick).
The kids, Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Cole Caufield, have been outstanding with the former two each potting an overtime winner. They’re also getting production at both ends of the ice from the wily veterans such as Shea Weber and Corey Perry.
But the last six games are no longer a factor. Now it’s Game 7 with two Original Six squads going at it.
Will the Canadiens continue their Cinderella-like run? Can the Maple Leafs put the ghosts of playoffs past, which are now breathing down their necks, behind them? This one should be a doozy.
Sporting News has all the action as the Canadiens and Maple Leafs go toe-to-toe in Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs (all times Eastern):
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs live score, highlights from 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs Game 7
9:21 p.m. — Joel Armia snags the bouncing puck and Campbell with a solid pad stop to keep it a two-goal game.
9:19 p.m. — Price goes post-to-post to deny Nylander and then a few seconds later stop Matthews.
9:15 p.m. — Foligno was taken down away from the play and Shea Weber goes to the box. Toronto gets a power play and it’s fair to say they need one here.
9:15 p.m. — Nine minutes to go and Toronto still needs two.
9:14 p.m. — Morgan Rielly off the rush gets a shot through the defense but Price easily turns it aside.
9:11 p.m. — Matthews streaking in is checked and drops to Zach Hyman who is robbed by Price off the shoulder.
9:10 p.m. — Kudos to the Canadiens GM and coach for sporting red suits.
9:06 p.m. — Matthews with a shot that’s turned aside by Price.
9:01 p.m. — Leafs power play is disconnected to start the period and they cannot score with the man advantage.
9:00 p.m. — Price again makes the stop on Zach Hyman in front as he tries to redirect the shot.
8:59 p.m. — The third period begins with the Maple Leafs on the power play for two full minutes.
8:53 p.m. — Through two periods, Toronto’s forwards have six shots. Yikes.
Second period: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 0
8:41 p.m. — Second period ends and the Maple Leafs will start the third period on the power play.
8:40 p.m. — Maple Leafs pull Campbell for the faceoff with 0.2 left but nothing going.
8:39 p.m. — Clock stops with 0.2 on the clock as Joel Armia takes out Travis Dermott away from the play.
8:37 p.m. — Jack Campbell with a critical glove stop.
8:33 p.m. — PP GOAL. Corey Perry doing Corey Perry things and screening the goalie, has the shot by Nick Suzuki go off him and in. Canadiens lead 2-0.
8:30 p.m. — Pierre Engvall gets called for holding Cole Caufield. Canadiens get the first power play of the game.
8:24 p.m. — Holl’s point shot is deflected and Price makes the difficult save.
8:23 p.m. — Auston Matthews on a 2-on-1 is stopped by Price.
8:22 p.m. — Seems the referees have put the whistles away early in this one.
8:19 p.m. — Jack Campbell stops the puck behind his net and isn’t sure where to go with it. Leaves it for his defenseman under pressure but gets coughed up and Josh Anderson misses the wide-open net from a bad angle.
8:16 p.m. — Odds are not in Toronto’s favor for a comeback win.
The team that scores first is 136-46 (.747) in the 182 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (1-0 in 2021). So there’s that.
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) June 1, 2021
8:13 p.m. — Leafs are turning things up a notch. Nick Foligno trying to find Zach Hyman on the other side of the crease but Price breaks it up.
8:10 p.m. — Zach Hyman on the doorstep, in the slot, all alone is absolutely robbed by Price.
8:09 p.m. — GOAL. Neither team able to get the puck deep but then Eric Staal with a big-time poke-check at his own blue line sends Montreal the other way. Brendan Gallagher, on the off-wing and from the top of the circle, beats Jack Campbell five-hole. Canadiens lead 1-0.
8:04 p.m. — Middle frame begins. Who will break through first?
First period: Canadiens 0, Maple Leafs 0
7:46 p.m. — Period comes to an end. Shots are 12-8 in favor of the Canadiens with Montreal also leading in shot attempts (20-17), according to Natural Stat Trick.
7:33 p.m. — Morgan Rielly skates in from the left point and has a good look but Price makes the save as he sees it all the way (he did look behind).
7:32 p.m. — The Prime Minister weighs in.
7:28 p.m. — Just under 10 minutes left in the period and Canadiens lead 6-5 in shots.
7:25 p.m. — Good block by Nick Suzuki on TJ Brodie point shot. Brodie, if you recall, scored the game-tying goal in Game 6.
7:21 p.m. — Maple Leafs controlling play but not getting much out of it.
7:17 p.m. — Big one-timer by Holl but Price can see it too. Of note, the two goals Toronto scored in Game 6 were deflections.
7:16 p.m. — Canadiens try to stuff the puck in past Jack Campbell at the side of the net.
7:16 p.m. — Four minutes in and Toronto leads 3-0 in shots but all were shots Price could see.
7:11 p.m. — Puck has been dropped. Game 7 is on.
7:10 p.m. — Fans in the stands.
7:08 p.m. — Maple Leafs, Canadiens and NHL hold a moment of reflection prior to the anthem for the 215 indigenous children found in Kamloops, B.C.
The grief, shock, and heartbreak of this discovery was felt around the world – with added pain for all those who have been affected by the residential school system, where countless injustices occurred throughout Canada’s history and in the recent past. (2/4)
— NHL (@NHL) May 31, 2021
We remember the 215 children who lost their lives at this single residential school, as well as all other missing and murdered Indigenous people, many of whom are still unaccounted for. (4/4)
— NHL (@NHL) May 31, 2021
6:40 p.m. — Maple Leafs’ lines.
Nick Foligno, who returned from injury on Saturday, drops to fourth line
Travis Dermott moves into top four alongside good pal Justin Holl @TSN_Edge
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 31, 2021
6:40 p.m. — Canadiens lines.
Comme prévu, aucun changement à la formation des #Habs
— J-F Chaumont (@JFChaumontJDM) May 31, 2021
6:30 p.m. — Toronto fans want to exorcise the demons.