Things were supposed to be different this year.
They added veteran voices. They bolstered the lineup. They added depth. But in the end, it was the same old Maple Leafs. For the third straight year, Toronto was sent packing in a decisive game as the Canadiens skated away with a 3-1 win in Game 7.
After a first period that saw both teams play safe, the Canadiens broke out in the middle frame. Eric Staal poked the puck away from a rushing Mitchell Marner at the Montreal blue line, leading to Gallagher going the other way. The forward then beat Jack Campbell through the five-hole from the top of the left circle. Later in the period, with the Canadiens on the power play, Corey Perry deflected the shot as he screened Campbell.
“It’s just tough. I just think how hard our team battled and for it to end on a goal, the worst goal of my career happened in Game 7. It’s unacceptable,” said an emotional Campbell, regarding the Gallagher goal. “I think the team counts on me to better and I know I can be better than that. I’m going to get back to work and get better.”
When the Maple Leafs took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, no one expected it to reach this moment. Montreal — which was under the weight of its own pressure after GM Marc Bergevin went all in with his roster — won Games 5 and 6 in overtime, setting up the ultimate showdown north of the border.
While the skaters were retooled up front, the one constant between the pipes, Carey Price, showcased once again why he is one of the best backstops in the game. Price entered the game with a .926 save percentage and a 1.57 High-Density Goals Saved Above Average at 5v5 (per Natural Stat Trick) in the series. The 33-year-turned aside 30 shots, with his lone blemish a William Nylander goal with 96 seconds left on the clock.
“It’s fun,” said Price with a smile when asked by Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas
The team that scores first is 136-46 (.747) in the 182 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (1-0 in 2021). So there’s that.
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) June 1, 2021
The grief, shock, and heartbreak of this discovery was felt around the world – with added pain for all those who have been affected by the residential school system, where countless injustices occurred throughout Canada’s history and in the recent past. (2/4)
— NHL (@NHL) May 31, 2021
We remember the 215 children who lost their lives at this single residential school, as well as all other missing and murdered Indigenous people, many of whom are still unaccounted for. (4/4)
— NHL (@NHL) May 31, 2021
Nick Foligno, who returned from injury on Saturday, drops to fourth line
Travis Dermott moves into top four alongside good pal Justin Holl @TSN_Edge
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) May 31, 2021