For the first time in such a long time, the Maple Leafs and Canadiens meet in the playoffs. Ever since the 1970s, we have missed this series to be happening. On a night where we have seen some crazy comebacks and wild finishes, this game was as tight as it could be. It was your standard playoff hockey game that saw minimal offense, but plenty of excitement.
The Maple Leafs have been known for their failures in the opening round of the playoffs in recent years. In the previous four seasons, the Maple Leafs have clinched a playoff spot, but no series wins in that span. The Canadiens return to the playoffs for the second straight year. Last year, they shocked everyone as they beat the number five seeded Penguins in four games in their best-of-five series. They look to do that again as the Maple Leafs are clear favorites against the Canadiens.
This needs to be addressed for the health of John Tavares. Tavares is known for being a prolific playoff performer and is a huge part of any success for Toronto. He is the captain for a reason on this young Maple Leafs’ team. Tonight’s game saw a huge scare to the captain, but it was anything but intentional.
Tavares finds some space in the open ice with the puck, Ben Chiarot steps up and delivers a clean check to the side of Tavares that sends Tavares flying on the ice. All is good for the Maple Leafs captain, but Corey Perry is in a terrible position. With no time to get out of the way, Perry gets Tavares’ head straight into his leg as he tries to get out of the way. The play was so vicious that it left Tavares cut around his eye and he was knocked out cold. The stretcher was needed and Tavares is now in the hospital. It is a completely accidental play. Do not blame Corey Perry or Ben Chiarot. We wish Tavares a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the ice soon.
John Tavares gives a thumbs up from the stretcher after a scary head injurypic.twitter.com/PoMO2YRl94
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 21, 2021
With a play like this, you hate to see your captain go down like that. All you can think about is his well-being and how he might be doing. An avenging moment is not necessary for this situation, but Toronto felt like it is. Nick Foligno is the newest member of this aging team in Toronto. He is a captain in his career so he knows how to lead a team. He goes right up to Corey Perry and immediately challenges him to a fight. While he is trying to pump up the team, this is completely unnecessary and Perry wanted nothing to do with it.
Foligno and Perry fight in response to the accident with Tavares. I’m sorry but I don’t feel Perry has to answer for anything there. In real time it was nearly impossible for Perry to avoid Tavares there. #LeafsForever #GoHabsGo #StanleyCup
— 2 Goalies 1 Mic (@2Goalies1Mic) May 21, 2021
Paul Byron’s Third Period Tally
This game was as tight as it gets in the third period. The two teams were deadlocked at 1-1 in the third period. Paul Byron hasn’t had the best season for the Canadiens this season. He has struggled to produce offense, but tonight he scores the winning goal with a beautiful shot from his knees. This goal lifts the Canadiens to a 2-1 lead over Toronto in game one.
PAUL BYRON. SHEEEEEEESH. 🤯 #StanleyCup
— NHL (@NHL) May 21, 2021
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