The Montreal Canadiens are not finished just yet.
They did not make it easy on themselves, but they were able to extend their First Round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs to a Game 6 thanks to their 4-3 overtime win on Thursday night.
It was a game that saw them blow a 3-0 lead, continue to struggle on the power play, and at times have to hold on in the third period just to get the game to overtime.
But while the Maple Leafs seemed to have all of the momentum going into overtime, an Alex Galchenyuk turnover at the blue line resulted in a 2-on-0 rush for Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki that resulted in the latter scoring his second goal of the series for the game-winner.
The series shifts back to Montreal on Saturday night for Game 6, while the Canadiens will have fans in the building. It will be the first game in Canada this season to have fans and even if it is a small number (2,500 fans) you can bet that it is going to be a wild scene.
It also means that Toronto has to wait at least one game to clinch its first playoff series win in 17 years. Toronto was the better team all season and has been the better team in this series, but the longer it lets Montreal hang around and extend the series the more pressure is going to build. Thursday’s game was probably the worst of the series to this point for the Maple Leafs, at least with the way they started, allowing Montreal jump out to a three-goal lead midway through the second period. It was the first time this season that Jack Campbell looked shaky in the Toronto net, giving up a couple of weird goals to Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi on net-front scrambles.
Armia scored two goals in the win for Montreal.
What had to be really exciting for Canadiens fans, though, was seeing the duo of Suzuki and Caufield making the game-winning play happen. Those two figure to be a significant part of the Canadiens’ long-term outlook and are two of the young players in the organization that have the potential to be major difference-makers in the future.
The play all started at Montreal’s blue line when Caufield intercepted a no-look pass from Galchenyuk. It was the one big mistake that Galchenyuk made in what has been an otherwise strong series for the former Canadiens forward.
He had another assist on Thursday, setting up Jake Muzzin‘s game-tying goal midway through the third period.
MAPLE LEAFS VS. CANADIENS (TOR leads 3-2) – series livestream link
Game 1: Canadiens 2, Maple Leafs 1
Game 2: Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 1
Game 3: Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 1
Game 4: Maple Leafs 4, Canadiens 0
Thursday, May 27: Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
*Saturday, May 29: Maple Leafs at Canadiens TBD
*Monday, May 31: Canadiens at Maple Leafs TBD