Toronto Seizes 2-1 Advantage: Pressure Now on Montreal to Even the Series

NHL May 25, 2021

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back in command.

Up 2-1 in the best-of-seven playoff series versus their storied rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, the Maple Leafs must feel good about where they stand and their prospects for advancing on to the second round.  Just two more wins to go, and they'll have a chance to get one of those victories tonight in Game 4.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens are surely disappointed with their results in the past two games, and especially last night's Game 3 loss to the Maple Leafs, by the score of 2-1.  Montreal clearly had their share to chances to win.  They even outshot the Leafs in the defeat.  However, Toronto did just enough to win the game as favouries which now puts all the pressure back on Montreal to rebound on Tuesday and try to even the series.

As of early Tuesday morning, Toronto stands as a -180 favourite tonight which comes back at +160 for Montreal.  Once again as in all the games of the series thus far, the O/U betting total is 5.5 goals, juiced slightly towards the UNDER.  Here's the latest odds breakdown at SPREADS.CA:

While Game 2 was a decisive 5-1 victory for the Maple Leafs, Game 3 saw the Canadiens play a much better game than before.  Though their scoring capability remains punchless at times, Nick Suzuki did put up the lone goal for Montreal, and Carey Price in the net played a solid game, stopping 26 of 28 shots.

Following a 1-1 tie, Morgan Rielly scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, which would prove to be the difference in the game.  Goaltender Jack Campbell enjoyed another fine night, allowing just one goal for the second-consecutive game.  William Nylander scored his third goal in as many games for Toronto, who is enjoying a terrific series.

Given the turning tide, it now looks like Toronto is destined to finally break the spell and win a playoff series, which would be a first since 2004.  Moving ahead by a 3-1 margin in Game 4 tonight back at the Bell Centre in Montreal will go a long way towards securing that prospect.

Forecast:  Toronto is the obvious pick tonight to win at a moneyline choice, but do we really want to lay nearly 2-1 on the heavy favourite in this game?  I think we'll pass.  Similarly, it's tempting to take a shot on Montreal getting a generous payoff.  But this offense can't be counted on to score goals.  Accordingly, we've opted instead to play the total in each of the last two games of this series, splitting the final results with a 1-1 record.  With last night's close, low-scoring game, these two teams have now gone 3-7-1 to the UNDER in their eleven head-to-head games this season.  These two teams also combined to go 50-59-to the UNDER during the regular season.  With the added playoff intensity, the Canadiens seemingly unable to find the back of the net, and the Maple Leafs still missing their captain who remains out due to injury, we'll continue riding the UNDER in the remainder of these games.

Final Prediction:  Toronto 3, Montreal 1.