Joel Edmundson said he believes discipline will be paramount for the Montreal Canadiens when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup First Round on Monday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN, CBC, SN TVAS).
The Maple Leafs scored two power-play goals in their 5-1 victory Saturday that tied the best-of-7 series. The Canadiens took six consecutive penalties, four in the second period and two more in the third.
“I think the second period last night, that’s what happened to us, myself included, kind of just going at the refs instead of going at the Leafs,” the Canadiens defenseman said. “That kind of killed us there. There are going to be situations like that throughout the series and we’ve just got to stay positive and focus on our job.”
The Maple Leafs entered the playoffs with a 20-percent power play, which ranked 11th among the 16 teams to qualify for the postseason. Toronto was 0-for-4 in Game 1 and 2-for-6 in Game 2, the first time since March 3 it had scored twice in a game with an extra skater.
“When we’re physical, if we do it the right way, sometimes they’ll react and take a penalty,” Edmundson said. “We’ve got to … finish every check, be hard on them but be smart at it at the same time because they’ve got a good power play and a lot of shooting options. That’s where they thrive, so we’ve just got to be smart.”
Defenseman Brett Kulak said the string of penalties wore out the Canadiens assigned to kill them and disrupted Montreal’s game.
“It doesn’t allow us to play with the puck and get that momentum and offense which we want,” Kulak said. “Then you’ve got (offensive) guys who sit on the bench during that time, too. If we can work hard and play with the puck, we’re going to draw more penalties than we take. That’s kind of our goal. It keeps the flow of our game and keeps us at our best.”
The Canadiens are 0-for-6 with the man-advantage in this series, failing to cash in on five opportunities in Game 1 — the Maple Leafs took three delay of game penalties for shooting the puck over the glass — and their one chance in Game 2.
Toronto’s power play stirred to life Saturday with goals by defenseman Rasmus Sandin and forward William Nylander.
“Montreal’s made it very clear that they want to be very physical,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said after Game 2. “I think the quote or term was they want to make it a war. If you’re going to do that, you’re at risk of getting penalties called against you. It’s our job as a power play to make them pay for that.”
Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said that “it’s possible” there will be a change in his lineup for Game 3. Center Jake Evans missed Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and is day to day. Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi replaced him Saturday, scoring at 7:57 of the first period before Toronto replied with five straight goals.
“Looking at the lineup, from top to bottom and every position,” Ducharme said, speaking of where he needs contribution from his roster. “It’s not only sometimes a question of one guy, it’s how guys can fit together. So we’ll see who we will see tomorrow.”
For the first time in their 15 playoff series, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs will play back-to-back games, Game 4 set for Tuesday in Montreal.