In a thrilling season opener, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 6-5 in an overtime shootout. The game was a roller-coaster.
Just when I wondered if the Maple Leafs would show up, they did and took over the game. Just when I thought they would run away and hide from the Canadiens, the team from Montreal scored a few goals to take a two-goal lead. And, just when I thought the game was toast for the Blue & White, the coaching staff made a daring choice to pull Ilya Samasonv and the team came back with two Auston Matthews goals to tie the game.
Finally, when the Matthew Knies took a penalty in the overtime session, the team desperately held on to go to the shootout. Then, during the shootout, Mitch Marner potted the only goal for the win.
That was even tough to follow in my write-up. It was tougher during the game.
Three Takeaways from Game 1 of the Regular Season
Here are three key takeaways from this high-octane matchup:
Takeaway One: Auston Matthews Is Back on His Game
Talk about hat-trick heroics. Auston Matthews took center stage in this contest, delivering a sensational hat trick. What made it especially crucial was because it was absolutely needed with the team’s facing down defeat. His late-game heroics, including the game-tying goal with little time left on the clock, underscore his status as one of the NHL’s premier scorers.
The goals were milestones – plus. With his 300th, 301st, and 302nd career goals, Matthews became the fastest Maple Leafs player in history to score 300 goals. He’s a force and looks to be setting the tone for a memorable season.
Takeaway Two: The Win Included Some Aggressive Maple Leafs Coaching
Although the team was responsible for putting itself in the hole by two goals, the upside was that the Maple Leafs displayed remarkable resilience in this game. They battled back twice from both 2-0 and 5-3 deficits.
The coaching staff threw the dice, with little to lose by pulling the goalie with just under five minutes remaining. It worked. Maybe not next time, but this time – good aggressive never-quit coaching. I believed it challenged the team and they rose to the task.
Mitch Marner was the shootout hero, scoring the only goal in the shootout. But the team showed unwavering determination and a “no-quit” attitude that pulled it out. This resilience is a promising sign for a team looking to make a strong push in the new season.
Takeaway Three: The Game Was an Emotional Roller-Coaster
The game was a roller-coaster – as noted in the introduction. There were dramatic swings and momentum shifts. The Canadiens young team didn’t quit either; but, the Maple Leafs’ tenacity rescued the game. This good-ole hockey game can be exciting.
While this season opener was a wild ride, the Maple Leafs’ ability to win sets the stage for an exciting season. The team, with its star players and never-say-die attitude, is set to make a good regular season run.