The last time these two teams met, the Canadiens celebrated ending the Maple Leafs’ season, another first-round flop for the Toronto club.
But on Wednesday night — just Game 1 of 82 of the 2021-22 NHL season — the Maple Leafs got a little revenge with a 2-1 win to open the season.
“First 10 minutes not good,” coach Sheldon Keefe of his team’s performance. “Took a while to get really comfortable in the game. From then on I thought the effort was really strong.”
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Those first 10 minutes saw the Canadiens come out flying to take a 1-0 lead off a goal by Jonathan Drouin. It was a special moment, as Drouin had missed the end of the regular season and the team’s Stanley Cup Final run to deal with anxiety and insomnia. Then at the 10:12 mark, Pierre Engvall — who had a great game for the Leafs — tied things up with a power-play goal.
“I’m just trying to do my best every day. I got to play with two good players and I think we found the chemistry pretty fast out there,” Engvall said of skating with new buddies Ondrej Kase and David Kampf. As Engvall noted, both are Czech and speak Czech on the bench. Engvall does not. “Just going to keep it going and have fun.”
Toronto bench boss Sheldon Keefe noticed how well Engvall played in the game. How good? Enough for him to mention a shot at the empty net that led to icing in the last seconds of a one-goal game.
“He had a strong game. I thought he skated well, scored us a big goal on the power play, gave us a lot of great shifts … I thought he was really good. So good that we’ll give him a pass on shooting at the empty net there,” he said, eliciting a chuckle from the assembled media.
It was close for a while. Things were knotted up until the third period, when William Nylander hopped on the ice, got the puck in the neutral zone, skated down the right wing and faked the shot before beating Jake Allen. He said he didn’t plan the delay: “It just happened.”
The true stars of the game for the Leafs were the backend. Defensemen Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl came up with some big blocks — including a few during a late 5-on-3 man advantage for the Canadiens. Holl led the team with four blocks and had a game-saving stop during that 5-on-3 penalty kill. Goaltender Jack Campbell stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced, including a couple of home plate chances by the Canadiens.
“Jack was on fire tonight,” said Nylander.
A number of key guys were out for both teams. Canadiens captain Shea Weber will not play this season, and his career may be over. Carey Price is out for the next month after entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. Joe Thornton left the Leafs for sunny Florida, and Zach Hyman headed west to snowy Edmonton. Auston Matthews, the 2021 Rocket Richard Trophy winner, is out for this one — and the next two after that — as he continues to recover from offseason wrist surgery. Mitchell Marner was a game-time decision but played.
Sporting News provided live updates and highlights as the Canadiens and Maple Leafs faced off (all times Eastern) :
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs scores, highlights
Final score: Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
9:52 p.m. — Leafs win.
9:52 p.m. — Pierre Engvall, with the Leafs on the power play, ices the puck.
9:50 p.m. — Just under a minute left and there’s a faceoff deep in the Leafs zone. Toronto gets it out.
9:49 p.m. — Canadiens get the puck deep in the Leafs’ zone and pull Jake Allen to make it 5v5.
9:48 p.m. — With 1:47 left, the Leafs get a power play as Anderson is called for roughing.
9:46 p.m. — Gallagher doing Gallagher things in this one, and there are some pleasantries swapped.
9:35 p.m. — Big stop by Jack Campbell off a redirected shot and then makes the rebound stop.
9:32 p.m. — Nylander called for tripping.
9:23 p.m. — Toronto kills them both off thanks to some big blocks by guys like Holl and Muzzin. Montreal only got one shot through.
9:20 p.m. — Marner gets called for tripping (possibly borderline) and it’s a 5-on-3 for the Canadiens for 1:44; however, Montreal only scored once on a two-man advantage in 56 regular-season games in 2021.
9:19 p.m. — Jason Spezza trips up Brendan Gallagher at the Leafs’ blue line. Canadiens head to the power play for the second time in the game.
9:12 p.m. — GOAL. William Nylander comes off the bench, takes the puck into the zone and scores from the right circle. Maple Leafs lead 2-1.
9:11 p.m. — Third period begins. Last year, Canadiens and Maple Leafs played in the season opener and Toronto won in overtime 5-4.
Second period: Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 1
8:52 p.m. — Period ends.
8:46 p.m. — Canadian Olympic legend Penny Oleksiak is at the game.
Penny Oleksiak is at Scotiabank Arena with all of her Olympic medals, and I’d like to believe she carries them around with her at all times.
“Oh? These old things?”
— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) October 14, 2021
8:39 p.m. — Slick stickhandling through the slot by Marner, but can’t collect.
8:32 p.m. — Canadiens get one shot on goal. About eight minutes in and it’s their only shot on net in the period.
8:30 p.m. — Canadiens head to the power play.
8:24 p.m. — Jake Allen makes a stop with two Leafs crashing, and there’s a mini-scrum with Bunting in the middle of it. There was a quick review but no goal.
8:15 p.m. — Second period is underway.
8:02 p.m. — Lots of love for Drouin on the timeline.
Jonathan Drouin scores in his return game. Incredible moment.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 13, 2021
First period: Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 1
7:56 p.m. — Last seconds of the period and Rasmus Dahlin’s point shot goes off Jake Evans and the crossbar.
7:51 p.m. — Maple Leafs starting to get more action in the Canadiens zone.
7:38 p.m. — PP GOAL. One second before the power play ends, the Canadiens collapse and, after he gets two Canadiens to screen — plus two of his own guys in front — Pierre Engvall beats Jake Allen. Game tied 1-1.
7:35 p.m. — Alexander Romanov gets called for interference and Leafs get a chance to tie it up.
7:34 p.m — GOAL. Jonathan Drouin scores off a 2-on-1. What a moment. Canadiens lead 1-0.
7:33 p.m. — Not much doing on the power play for the Leafs, which is kind of how things went at the end of 2021.
7:27 p.m. — Montreal comes out flying, but Ben Chiarot takes a penalty. Maple Leafs get the first power play.
7:25 p.m. — Scramble in front and again Campbell comes up big. Josh Anderson again in the middle.
7:23 p.m. — Marner down the left wing just misses from the left circle
7:22 p.m. — David Savard gets a look.
7:20 p.m. — Less than 30 seconds in and the Canadiens get two quick chances where Jack Campbell has to come up big.
7:20 p.m. — After pregame festivities, including the fans singing the national anthem, game on.
6:50 p.m. — Lines are here for the Leafs.
#Leafs line rushes vs. MTL
— David Alter (@dalter) October 13, 2021
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What channel is Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs on?
- Date: Wed., Oct. 13
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV channel (Canada) : SN, SN360, TVAS
- Stream: ESPN+ (U.S.) | SN NOW (Canada)
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET with a pregame show hosted by Caroline Cameron alongside analysts Kevin Bieksa, Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Elliotte Friedman. Chris Cuthbert will have the call with Craig Simpson serving as the analyst and Kyle Bukauskas as the reporter.