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. »
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
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 14, 2021
Second period: Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 1
Penny packing the medals with her at Scotiabank Arena tonight. pic.twitter.com/KBPtA1XxLq
— David Alter (@dalter) October 14, 2021
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
Love to see it @jodrouin27 🔥🔥🔥
— Anthony Duclair (@aduclair10) October 13, 2021
So happy for Drouin
— David Amber (@DavidAmber) October 13, 2021
Jonathan Drouin scores in his return game. Incredible moment.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) October 13, 2021
First period: Canadiens 1, Maple Leafs 1
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 13, 2021
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 13, 2021
#Leafs line rushes vs. MTL
— David Alter (@dalter) October 13, 2021
NHL 2021-22: Latest news
- Sporting News picks award winners, playoff teams, Stanley Cup champ
- TV channel, live streams for every teams season-opening games
- Five guys that could be traded between now and the deadline
- Top 10 defensemen 2021-22
- Top 10 goalies 2021-22
- Top 10 forwards 2021-22
- Top 25 under 25 in 2021-22
- Avalanche, Lightning with best odds for Stanley Cup
- Calder Trophy odds, SN’s predictions for winner, dark horse
- Vezina Trophy odds, SN’s predictions for winner, dark horse
- Norris Trophy odds, SN’s predictions for winner, dark horse
- Hart Trophy odds, SN’s predictions for winner, dark horse
- Rosters for every 2022 Olympic team as they are announced
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.