The Maple Leafs have lost five straight chances to close a series since 2018, including a 4-3 overtime loss to the Canadiens in Game 5 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
A win would send the Maple Leafs to the second round of the Stanley Cup against the Winnipeg Jets. Toronto has not won a playoff game since losing 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference top-seven first round in 2004.
Coach Sheldon Keefe said the Maple Leafs don’t care about the past, but instead focus on the present.
“We feel good in our team,” he said. “We feel good about our chances. We feel good about the way we’ve played in this series. We just have to go out and run. “
Teams with a 3-2 lead are 328-87 (79.0%) winning a best-of-7 series, including 4-0 this season.
Before Brendan Gallagher said Canadians are confident and don’t worry the odds are stacked against them. But he stopped before he made any promises.
“Nothing is guaranteed,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll get a Mark Messier quote from me. But I’ve been saying it all year: no matter what this band’s been through… belief was never an issue. “
Messier, then New York Rangers forward, secured a victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, then scored a hat trick in the 4-2 win over New York.
Here are 3 keys for game 6:
1. Fans in the stands
For the first time in 14 months, there will be fans in the stands for an NHL game in Canada. We expect there will be 2,500 spectators at the Bell Center on Saturday.
“Having people back in the building tonight is a very good sign for our country,” Keefe said.
The Canadiens forward Corey Perry agreed.
“The Bell Center, to have fans, it’s a special time of the year and we’re excited,” he said.
Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner said the crowd doesn’t necessarily give Montreal a significant edge in terms of an edge on the ice.
“I’m sure there will also be blue and white,” he said. “We have played in front of fans before. It’s going to be fun to play in front of people again and to hear people clapping, so we’re thrilled as well. “
2. Maple Leafs lineup adjustments
Nick Foligno took the line rushes to the center between the attackers Alex Galchenyuk and Guillaume Nylander during Toronto’s morning practice and will be a decision during the game.
Foligno, who has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury, would help the Toronto forward failure and bring physicality.
Defender Travis Dermott will replace the recruit Rasmus Sandin, who got a bad giveaway in Game 5.
“Rasmus is coming out of a tough night, I just thought going with ‘Dermy’ today would be the right move for us today,” Keefe said. “Give Rasmus a little more time to settle down. A combination of learning from the previous game and gaining a little extra experience as he makes his way through his first NHL playoff series. “
3. Quick start for Canadians
Faced with elimination in Game 5, the Canadiens came out urgently and built a 2-0 lead at 8:18 of the first period on two goals by the forward Joel armia.
Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme said he told his team the importance of getting another quick start in Game 6.
“We talked about it, I talked about it at the press conference, to be more dynamic,” he said. “We talked about scoring goals. “
The Canadiens chased the Maple Leafs early in Game 5 and hope to follow that plan again.
Scheduled Maple Leafs lineup
Zach Hyman — Auston Matthews –Mitchell Marner
Alex Galchenyuk — Nick Foligno — William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev — Alexandre Kerfoot — Wayne Simmonds
Joe Thornton — Pierre Envall — Jason Spezza
Morgan Rielly — TJ Brodie
Jake Muzzin — Justin Holl
Travis Dermott — Zach Bogosian
Striped: Rasmus Sandin, Adam Brooks, Riley Nash, Denis Malgin, Martin Marincin, David Rittich, Michel Hutchinson
Injured: Jean Tavares (concussion / knee), Ben Hutton (diseases)
Projected training of Canadians
Tomas Tatar — Philippe Danault –Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Cole Caufield
Paul Byron — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Josh Anderson
Joel Armia – Eric Staal – Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joël Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak — Erik Gustafsson
Striped: Michel Frolik, Alex Belzile, Alexandre Romanov, Xavier Ouellet, Cayden Primeau
Injured: Jake Evans (not disclosed), Artturi Lehkonen (upper body), Jon Merrill (not disclosed)
Merrill, a defenseman, is expected to be out for 1-2 weeks; Kulak will replace him in the lineup. … Evans trained as an extra in morning practice and the forward is one of the few decisions made during the game, Ducharme said. … Lehkonen has been on the ice after morning practice, but the forward will not play.