3 Keys: Canadiens at Maple Leafs, Game 7 of first round


No. 4 Canadiens at No. 1 Maple Leafs  

7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied, 3-3

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens will play Game 7 of their Stanley Cup First Round series at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.

The Maple Leafs have not won a postseason series since 2004 and have lost three consecutive Game 7s dating to 2013. Their last playoff series win came in 2004 when they defeated the Ottawa Senators in seven games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Toronto forward Jason Spezza said the team has not lost its enthusiasm after two consecutive overtime losses forced Game 7.

“As kids we’ve all been through this scenario on our driveways playing road hockey, in our basements playing mini-sticks,” Spezza said. “These are the moments you dream of. And now to be able to live it out, it’s exciting.”

The Canadiens won their most recent Game 7, a 3-1 victory against the Boston Bruins in the 2014 Eastern Conference Second Round.

“We’ll approach it like we have every other night and see where it goes,” Montreal forward Eric Staal said. “And then go on from there.”

Toronto is 12-12 all-time in Game 7, including 7-1 at home; Montreal is 14-9, including 6-6 on the road.

The winner will play the Winnipeg Jets in the Stanley Cup Second Round.

Here are 3 keys for Game 7:

1. Replacing Muzzin

Defenseman Jake Muzzin will be out at least three weeks with a lower-body injury sustained in a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 6. Muzzin is the Maple Leafs most physical defenseman, so expect the Canadiens, led by forwards Corey Perry and Brendan Gallagher, to plow their way to the front of the net. Rasmus Sandin, who had a bad giveaway in Toronto’s 4-3 overtime loss in Game 5, will draw into the lineup. Don’t be surprised if veteran defenseman Zach Bogosian plays an increased role with Muzzin out.

2. Canadiens seek another fast start

Quick starts have been key in each of the Canadiens past two victories. In Game 5, they built a two-goal lead midway through the first period on two goals by forward Joel Armia. In Game 6, they came out flying and outshot the Maple Leafs 7-0 in the first three minutes. Establishing early momentum again will be vital in a Game 7 against a Toronto team that was the overwhelming pre-series favorite and might start feeling the pressure early on if things don’t go its way.

“We’re dynamic, we’re moving, we’re on the puck and we’re playing fast as a team and that doesn’t always mean it’s the skating, it’s the way we think,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “We want to have a good start again tonight. There are a few key points on that that makes us have good starts and we want to make sure we apply those.”

3. Enjoy the moment

Although the Maple Leafs are 0-6 in series-clinching games since 2018, there are reasons for optimism. Captain John Tavares, who sustained a knee injury and concussion May 20, won’t return but his appearance on the ice at Toronto’s optional morning skate was a source of inspiration. The teams will be playing in front of 550 healthcare and frontline workers, the first fans to watch an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena in 14 months.

“Clear your mind,” Maple Leafs veteran forward Joe Thornton said. “You’ve got to enjoy the moment and leave it all out on the ice every shift. It starts with the puck drop and ends when that whistle blows. It’s going to be a real fun night for us.”

Canadiens projected lineup

Jake EvansPhillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher

Tyler ToffoliNick SuzukiCole Caufield

Paul ByronJesperi KotkaniemiJosh Anderson

Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry

Joel EdmundsonJeff Petry

Ben ChiarotShea Weber

Brett KulakErik Gustafsson

Carey Price

Jake Allen

Scratched: Tomas Tatar, Michael Frolik, Alex Belzile, Jon Merrill, , Alexander Romanov, Xavier Ouellet, Cayden Primeau

Injured: Artturi Lehkonen (upper body)

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach HymanAuston MatthewsMitchell Marner

Alex GalchenyukNick FolignoWilliam Nylander

Ilya MikheyevAlexander KerfootWayne Simmonds

Joe Thornton — Pierre Engvall — Jason Spezza

Morgan RiellyTJ Brodie

Travis DermottJustin Holl

Rasmus Sandin — Zach Bogosian

Jack Campbell

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Riley Nash, Adam Brooks, Denis Malgin, Martin Marincin, David Rittich, Michael Hutchinson

Injured: John Tavares (concussion/knee), Ben Hutton (illness), Jake Muzzin (lower body)

Status report

The Canadiens are expected to use the same lineup as they did in Game 6, Ducharme said. … Dermott likely will move up to the second pairing with Holl.

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