Jack Campbell Outduels Price as Toronto Maple Leafs Take Lead

CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - JANUARY 24: Jack Campbell #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 24, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs held on for a hard fought victory last night.

Carey Price has put up some pretty stingy numbers for Montreal in the playoffs over the last five or so years. But Jack Campbell, seeing his first playoff action with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the tender young age of 29, doesn’t seem to be particularly fazed by his counterpart.

Campbell was a rock in net for Toronto Monday night as Toronto beat Montreal 2-1 to take a 2-1 series lead in the first round of the 2021 NHL playoffs.

He had to be extra sharp in the final frame as Toronto, with the one-goal lead, seemed content with their offensive output and focused mainly on running out the clock and preventing high-risk chances. The Leafs ended up sealing the win, despite being out-shot 15-2 in the 3rd, with sound positional goaltending by Campbell, who did a great job of controlling rebounds and preventing additional chances. (All stats naturalstattrick.com).

Until the third period; however, it was Price who was putting on the show. The Toronto Maple Leafs, again, dominated the middle frame and were it not for Price would have had a much bigger lead to protect in the third. Here is a breakdown of how the game went:

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens

In the first, Montreal drew first (minuscule speck of) blood, as Gallagher took a Galchenyuk high-stick to the face just after the draw 1:02 into the frame. The Leafs continued their strong play with a man down and didn’t allow a single shot against in the four-minute infraction (a smidgen of red residue that may have once been blood was extracted by Gallagher as evidence to ensure the double-minor).

The period was played at a somewhat tepid pace, with both teams failing to register many significant chances. Montreal’s best attempt (which was also their first shot on net) came nearly halfway into the period on a 2 on 1 that was thwarted by a strong Jack Campbell point-blank stop.

Toronto would get their best chance about three minutes later on the power play after a speeding Nylander threaded a nice pass to Spezza who had what appeared to be an easy, open net goal. After Spezza corralled the puck for a second to ensure a clean shot, Price was able to slide over and make an incredible stick save. The period would end with Toronto holding a 7-6 favour in shots.

Second Period

This is where the Toronto Maple Leafs really took off. For the third straight game Toronto controlled play in the second by a large margin.

Nylander opened the scoring just over seven minutes in with a shot from a ways out that deflected off of a skate and into the net. The Leafs continued to pile on the pressure and spent significant time in the offensive-zone but couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.

Suzuki would tie the game with six minutes left, firing a nice wrist shot under Campbell’s blocker on a one-on-one rush. But three minutes later, with the Leafs pressing again, Rielly made it 2-1 after taking a beautiful Marner pass and rifling it past Price up high. Toronto out-shot Montreal 20-8 in the frame and would take a 46-29 lead in shot-attempts early into the third.

Third Period

The Toronto Maple Leafs spent the majority of the period in their own zone as they protected their one-goal lead and tried to keep Montreal out of the high-risk scoring portions of the ice. Ultimately they did a pretty good job in limiting second and slot chances but they did have to rely on Campbell (especially in the later minutes) to make some difficult saves to secure the victory.

After sporting a CF% of over 60% in both the first and second periods (stats courtesy of naturalstattrick), Toronto skated to a 17% CF% in the third. They did hold on to finish with an overall edge in xGF vs. xGA with a 2.39 and 1.69, respectively. Final shots were 29-29, faceoff % was 50% apiece and both teams were scoreless with the man advantage (Leafs 0-4, Montreal 0-3).

Game Impressions 

The Leafs dominated the first two thirds of the game, for the most part, and should have had a multi-goal lead going into the third. Carey Price stood on his head in the second and single-handedly gave Montreal a fighting chance.

Toronto fell victim to the same issues that plagued them in Game 1 in that they tried to hold on to the puck and make the perfect pass despite being in prime shooting areas, ultimately leading to turnovers or missed shots on net. Their power play also continued to struggle as they had trouble setting up and getting quality shots on net. It finished 0-4 and really needs to be figured out; the lack of movement and urgency is somewhat alarming.

On the positive side for Toronto, they played a solid defensive game and the penalty kill absolutely stymied Montreal’s power play. Campbell, as mentioned, was stellar and Hyman, after looking like he was still recovering from his injury in games 1 and 2, was flying all night and appears to be back to 100%. Rielly (64.3 CF%) and Brodie (60 CF%) stood out for the defense and Kerfoot (52.6 CF%), Engvall (66.6 CF%) and Simmonds (82.3 CF%) all had solid games on the forward front.

Matthews also showed a physical edge and continued his strong all-around play. Riley Nash, who came in for Nick Foligno (sidelined with a lower-body injury) didn’t impress and was ultimately relegated to the 4th line and limited to 7 minutes of ice time. Hopefully Foligno comes in for Game 4.

Next. Leafs Top Ten Prospects. dark

Next Up: It’s a back-to-back as Toronto faces Montreal in Game 4 Tuesday night at 7:30 pm.