Montreal Canadiens: What Can We Take Away from Opening Night?

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Jonathan Drouin #92 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Jonathan Drouin #92 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 13, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens fell 5-4 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first game of the 2021 season. Josh Anderson scored twice.

It is the start of the new season as the Montreal Canadiens found their way to Toronto for a tilt against the rival Maple Leafs. Coming off a 5-4 overtime loss, here is what stood out in the back and forth and affair.

Period I: One for the Kid and One for the New Guy

At 12:49, Nick Suzuki opened the game’s scoring from an angle with little to no room left that deflected off the post and into the net. Jonathan Drouin and Jeff Petry had the assists. The lead would be short-lived as William Nylander, from John Tavares and Justin Holl, would tie it up for the Maple Leafs on a goal that saw just the right amount of traffic to block Carey Price’s vision. Montreal Canadiens newcomer Josh Anderson would get the final goal of the period to put his team back up 2-1. Jeff Petry and Jonathan Drouin would also get their second points of the night on the powerplay goal.

Period II: Momentum Shifting Period for the Leafs

The second period of play saw both teams tighten up their games after shaking off the training camp rust. Nonetheless, the period was still filled enough goals to keep the fans entertained. Tomas Tatar put the Canadiens up 3-1 after scoring his first of the season on the five-hole with assists from captain Shea Weber and rookie defenseman Alexander Romanov. More on Romanov later on. The two goal lead by the Canadiens would quickly evaporate in the final minutes of the second period due to penalties by Nick Suzuki and Shea Weber. The Leafs were granted a 5 on 3 powerplay that they wasted little time to wear down the Canadiens. William Nylander would score his second of the night with assists from Zach Hyman and Jason Spezza whilst John Tavares would get the tying goal. Mitch Marner and goaltender Frederik Anderson received helpers on the play.

Period III: Another Lead, Another Tie

The Montreal Canadiens were quickly granted another opportunity to show off their new-look powerplay with Josh Anderson’s second goal (from Drouin and Edmundson) of the tilt. However, at the 10:33 mark, the Canadiens would once more lose their lead to the Leafs’ offseason addition, Jimmy Vesey (from William Nylander).

Overtime: Scoring Opportunities, Gassed Teammates and a Pity Point

By the end of third period, it was clear the Montreal Canadiens had little fuel left in the tank. However, this did not prevent good scoring opportunities from the likes of Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson and Philip Danault. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, it would be the Maple Leafs’ star players who came away with two points as Morgan Rielly was assisted by Mitch Marner and John Tavares to close out the game.

What Can We Take Away from Opening Night?

The second line of Jonathan Drouin, Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson is going to be a treat to watch throughout the season. The instant chemistry from training camp has clearly carried over. Anderson demonstrated both his speed and 2018-19 scoring touch that should make the line one of the most offensive of the Canadiens lineup should he stay healthy. On the blue line, if you had to do a double take whenever Alexander Romanov was on the ice, you weren’t alone. The 21-year old rookie was one of the better defensemen on the blue line against the Maple Leafs with smart offensive and breakout passes and an assist that nabbed him his first career point on Tatar’s goal. Likewise, Romanov only played the body when it would not be detrimental to his positioning. What stood out by the end of the game was the fact that Alexander Romanov had finished the night having played a grand total of 22:49 in his very first game played. To have received such responsibilities is an indictment of the trust Romanov has likely instilled in head coach Claude Julien. Furthermore, the Montreal Canadiens made good use of the powerplays they were granted, going two for three in their against the Leafs penalty-killing unit. If this is a sign of things to come, one of the longest standing systematic issues may have ultimately been solved but only time may tell. However, one issue from the 2019-20 regular season may have carried over. In the second period, the Montreal Canadiens were controlling the momentum up until two penalties that could have been easily avoided; however, we will cut Weber’s penalty some slack as the delay penalty was questionable. Regardless, both calls inevitably led to the Leafs finding their game. Staying disciplined against high scoring teams in the North Division will be key moving forward. The Montreal Canadiens will continue their six game road trip as they head to Alberta for two matchups against the Edmonton Oilers. The first game, on Saturday, will be played at 7:00pm ET.