While the Maple Leafs received mostly-good news about John Tavares, he certainly wasn’t available against the Canadiens for Game 2, and is unlikely to be in the lineup soon. Yet, even without Tavares in Game 2, the Maple Leafs looked more like the team that dominated the North Division, and that was bad news for the Canadiens.
The Maple Leafs won 5-1 in Game 2, tying their series with the Canadiens at 1-1. In doing so, Jack Campbell won his first career playoff game at the NHL level.
Matthews, Maple Leafs get better vs. Canadiens as Game 2 goes along
When Jesperi Kotkaniemi made it 1-0 about eight minutes in, some in Toronto might have had a “here we go again” feeling. Thanks to a cheeky goal where Jason Spezza swooped in instead of Wayne Simmonds, the first period ended 1-1.
Maybe that was the sort of boost the Buds needed? Either way, they came out with a powerful second period.
During the second period alone, the Maple Leafs generated a commanding 20-6 shot on goal advantage over the Canadiens. Auston Matthews scored the 2-1 goal, then added two assists in running away with the contest.
Auston Matthews through two periods:
8 shot attempts
12-2 on the draw
78% expected goals
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) May 23, 2021
Despite emptying their net quite early in the third, Montreal didn’t threaten all that often once Toronto really took over. Beyond Matthews, Mitch Marner enjoyed a strong night, collecting two assists in victory.
While an iffy decision to challenge for goalie interference didn’t really hurt the Canadiens in Game 2, the Maple Leafs’ power play made a difference. They scored the 3-1 and 4-1 goals on the man advantage, easing the threat for late drama.
CANADIENS – MAPLE LEAFS FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE
Game 1: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Game 2: Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Monday, May 24: Maple Leafs at Canadiens, 7 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
Tuesday, May 25: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD
Thursday, May 27: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD
*Saturday, May 29: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD
*Monday, May 31: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.