MONTREAL — The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to keep the status quo.
The team defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday to even up their first-round playoff series at 1-1. With the series shifting to Montreal for Games 3 and 4, Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme has elected to put rookie forward Cole Caufield into their lineup.
“I think I’m in here to spark the team and give us energy and help us win,” Caufield said ahead of his NHL playoff debut. “I’m going to do everything I can to play in the offensive zone, play 200 feet and do all the right things and play with a high compete level.”
The Canadiens will also have the benefit of the last line change and perhaps that helped in making the change. Forward Eric Staal will come out of the lineup with Ducharme saying the veteran “isn’t 100 percent”. Caufield has four goals and one assist in five games this season with Montreal. Two of his goals came against the Leafs, one of them coming in overtime in a 3-2 in on May 3.
Despite the changes up front, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was rather blunt when asked how his team adjusts to their opponent’s changes.
“It doesn’t change anything for us,” Keefe said.
The Leafs held a brief morning skate on Monday. Everyone took part except for forward Nick Foligno.
Foligno occupied John Tavares’ spot as the second-line center on Saturday. When the team ran line rushes, Riley Nash subbed in for Foligno as a placeholder.
Keefe later confirmed that Foligno would play tonight. Nash sat out of Game 2 as a healthy scratch. He did not stay late with assistant coaches to work on drills as is usual with healthy scratches.
Foligno was seen on the broadcast of Game 2 walking gingerly into the dressing room. The forward missed a pair of games with an upper-body injury earlier this month.
With back-to-back games, there was some thought that perhaps Toronto’s goalies would split the upcoming games. Keefe said he hadn’t thought that far ahead and wants to get through Game 3.
Jack Campbell will start in goal for Toronto. He has posted a .943 save percentage in his two playoff starts.
Game 2 began with some odd line combinations from both teams. With Josh Anderson on the starting lineup for Montreal, Toronto countered with Wayne Simmonds as part of a trio with Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman.
“Just his ability to forecheck and we needed his presence to start the game,” Keefe said.
In Games 1 and 2, the Leafs made an effort to make sure Simmonds’ line was on the ice whenever Anderson was out there.
Keefe cited Anderson’s line before the series of it being a war following their Game 2 victory.
“Montreal has made it very clear that they want to be physical,” Keefe said on Saturday. “I think the term was they wanted to make it a war. If you’re going to do that, you’re at risk of getting penalties called against you.”
The Canadiens took six consecutive penalties on Saturday. That led Toronto to score twice with the man advantage, something they hadn’t done since Mar. 3.
The Leafs had Simmonds all over Anderson when Montreal put the forward on the ice w. Simmonds was on the ice with Anderson for 5:01 on Saturday, more than any other forward.