It’s a special Saturday night at Bell Centre for Game 6 of the North Division first-round series between Toronto and Montreal.
There are a few reasons why:
- The Canadiens are aiming to stave off elimination once again and force a Game 7.
- The Maple Leafs are looking to put the ghosts of postseason pasts behind them and finally win a playoff series for the first time in 17 years.
- The biggest and best reason it’s a truly special night is that there are fans in the stands. Finally. The Canadiens on Saturday became the first club north of the border to host spectators — 2,500 of them — this year.
“The pandemic’s hit the people here as hard as anywhere in our country, and the people deserve this,” said Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, who mentioned Saturday that he wasn’t going to go down the Mark Messier guarantee route. “They were disciplined, they listened to what was being asked of them.
“And these are the rewards that were earned.”
Tickets were priced at ridiculous levels on the resale market but it’s expected that there will be fans from both sides of the aisle at the game. While they’ll be socially distanced, and regardless of the number (Bell Centre holds 21,273 when packed), it’s going to be loud.
Both teams have made tweaks to the lineup. Brett Kulak draws in for the Canadiens and Travis Dermott replaces Rasmus Sandin on Toronto’s blue line. Jake Evans is back up front for the Canadiens in place of Tomas Tatar and it looks as if Nick Foligno is back for the Leafs.
While you’d think all the pressure is on the Canadiens, hold on. There is also immense pressure on Toronto, a team that not only is the stronger club in the series but has those ghosts of playoffs past breathing down their necks.
Sporting News has all the action as the Canadiens try to keep their postseason going while the Maple Leafs hope to (finally) move on to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (all times Eastern):
Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens live score, highlights from 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs Game 6
8:39 p.m. — Cole Caufield down the right wing and he rings one off the pipe.
8:38 p.m. — The second period begins. Who will score first?
First period: Maple Leafs 0, Canadiens 0
8:19 p.m. — First period comes to an end.
8:18 p.m. — Wow. Royal Road pass and Carey Price with the highway robbery on the Nick Foligno one-timer.
8:12 p.m. — Defenseman Travis Dermott with probably the best scoring chance for the Leafs as he cuts to the middle and gets a good shot off.
8:07 p.m. — Seven minutes left in the opening period and the Canadiens are outshooting the Maple Leafs 13-5.
8:01 p.m. — Penalty ends and Nick Suzuki gets a head-man pass, splits the D but is stoned by Campbell.
7:59 p.m. — Fans chanting “Go Habs Go!”
7:58 p.m. — Alexander Kerfoot called for high-sticking so Montreal to the power play but . . . well . . . Canadiens are 0-for-14, so is it really an advantage?
7:52 p.m. — Attn: Canadiens came to play.
7:51 p.m. — Back to even strength.
7:50 p.m. — And then it’s Jake Evans with a cut and a move to create space while shorthanded and Campbell has to make the difficult stop.
7:49 p.m. — Leafs on the power play but it the Canadiens with the better chances as Shea Weber rips one off the blocker.
7:49 p.m. — Maple Leafs get a power play as Josh Anderson trips William Nylander.
7:48 p.m. — Canadiens swarming early in this one as Campbell has to be on top of his game.
7:46 pm. — Phillip Danault gets the first good chance for either team and is denied by Jack Campbell.
7:46 p.m. — Puck dropped. Game 6 is on.
7:45 p.m. — Absolute chills as the fans sing the national anthem at Bell Centre.