TORONTO | Martin St-Louis hammered out the same little phrase in a 62-second scrum after that 7-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.
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Visibly irritated, St-Louis repeated four times in just over a minute: “We weren’t there. »
If the speech remained short and expeditious, the head coach described this meeting in a very realistic way. Only one team touched the puck and they wore a blue jersey with a maple leaf logo.
The Maple Leafs dictated the game from the first minutes. After a period, they were leading 2-0. But the shots illustrated this domination even more with 18 against 1. In terms of shots attempted, it was a 33-6 swing.
“We didn’t get off to a good start and it wasn’t a good night for us,” defender Chris Wideman said.
“When you lose like that, it’s frustrating,” added defenseman Mike Matheson. It’s hard to accept. »
The cannons thunder
There was an obvious imbalance between the two teams. In terms of raw talent, the Leafs are among the NHL’s elite. Not the CH. And even less the CH with a ton of injuries.
In the morning, Mark Giordano spoke about the importance of the last four games of the season. Despite a secure second-place finish in the Atlantic Division and another clash against the Lightning in the first round, the Maple Leafs wanted to use the end of the season to gain momentum and cohesion.
They did it against the Habs. The big names from the Maple Leafs also had a lot of fun on the ice. Auston Matthews (1 goal, 3 assists), Mitchell Marner (2 goals, 1 assist), John Tavares (2 goals), Ryan O’Reilly (3 assists) and William Nylander (1 goal) blacked out the scoresheet. They scored four of their seven power-play goals.
With rests to defenders Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie, Erik Gustafsson took advantage of the passage of his former team to collect three assists. For a defenseman who was thought to be on the decline not long ago, Gustafsson now has 42 points (7 goals, 35 assists) in 70 games. Kyle Dubas acquired him from the Washington Capitals on February 28.
For a third time this season, Samuel Montembeault gave up seven goals. If that number isn’t good for his personal stats, Montembeault wasn’t to blame.
“After the first period, we talked to him in the locker room,” Matheson said. We thought we had to do more for him. Without Monty we could have lost 6-0 after 20 minutes. It’s not his fault. He still played well. »
In the Leafs camp, Ilya Samsonov signed one of the easiest victories of his career. According to the website naturalstattrickthe Leafs had 17 high-quality five-on-five chances, compared to just one for the visitors.
At the end of the game, Samsonov gave way to Jett Alexander. The University of Toronto goaltender, who had signed a one-day amateur contract, took over for the last 70 seconds of the game. He did not receive a single shot.
What we notice
A university goalkeeper as assistant
The Maple Leafs don’t have a ton of money under the salary cap. With the injury to Matt Murray and his desire to offer a contract to Matthew Knies, a finalist for the Hobey-Baker Trophy, Kyle Dubas has used a rather rare strategy. Before the game, the young Leafs GM signed goaltender Jett Alexander to an amateur contract. The 23-year-old Alexander played for the University of Toronto this season. With a score of 7 to 1, he replaced Samsonov late in the third period. With this mathematical juggling, the Maple Leafs will have enough money under the salary cap to recall goaltender Joseph Woll during the next trip to Florida. Wayne Simmonds will also return to the Toronto Marlies.
three more points
Mitchell Marner intends to reach the symbolic plateau of 100 points for the first time in his career. The dynamic right winger added to his record with three points (2 goals, 1 assist) against the Habs. He now has 98 points (30 goals, 68 assists) in 78 games. With three more games on the Maple Leafs’ schedule, Marner has a good chance of accomplishing his goal.
A speedy fight
There’s a good old belief that a fight can wake up a team. With a score of 2-0 in the first period, Michael Pezzetta tested this theory. Immediately after a face-off, he invited Wayne Simmonds for a waltz. The Leafs winger easily won his fight by releasing three violent lefts. There was no awakening in the Habs camp. Now at the end of his career at 34 and in the final year of a two-year pact (0.9 million on average), Simmonds has only appeared in 18 games this season.
The plus: Nick Suzuki
There were few candidates. Suzuki had an honest game at the center of the first line with Harvey-Pinard and Armia. He obtained an assist on the only goal of his team, that of Johnathan Kovacevic. He also won 62% of his faceoffs.
Least: Justin Barron
There were several candidates for this choice! Denis Gurianov, Mike Hoffman, Jake Evans among the forwards. But on the blue line, Justin Barron had a tough game. He looked like a rookie defenseman against the big Maple Leafs offensive machine.