Paul Byron’s short-handed goal in the third period gave the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
During a Leafs power play 12:44 into the third period, Byron outraced defenseman Rasmus Sandin to a loose puck in Toronto’s zone. Byron was knocked down on the play, but shooting from his knees, Byron was still able to fire the puck past goalie Jack Campbell.
Though the Habs now hold a 1-0 lead in the series, the Maple Leafs’ greater concern is the status of captain John Tavares, who left the game with an apparent head/neck injury.
Midway through the first period, Tavares was kneed in the head by a racing Corey Perry. Tavares had been bodychecked to the ice by Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and Tavares fell right into the path of Perry, who was moving too quickly to avoid the Toronto captain.
Tavares gave a thumbs-up gesture as he was stretchered off the ice, following several minutes of treatment from both teams’ trainers. He was taken to a local hospital.
Josh Anderson scored Montreal’s first goal, less than two minutes after Tavares’ injury.
William Nylander scored the Maple Leafs’ only goal, depositing a rebound 4:28 into the second period.
Carey Price stopped 35 of 36 shots, returning after missing the Habs’ last 13 regular-season games due to a concussion.
Playing in his first career Stanley Cup playoff game, Campbell stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Byron’s third career postseason goal represented yet another offensive strike by the Canadiens’ penalty-kill unit. Montreal had nine short-handed goals during the regular season, tying for the league lead.
Through Montreal went scoreless on five power-play opportunities, Toronto’s offense was stifled due to the time spent killing penalties.
The Maple Leafs were 0-for-4 in power-play chances, with Byron’s goal adding further heartache for a struggling power-play unit. Over their last 30 games in the regular season and postseason, the Leafs have scored only five times on 77 chances with the extra attacker.
Montreal forward Jake Evans (undisclosed injury) didn’t play in the third period.
Game 2 is on Saturday in Toronto.
–Field Level Media