MONTREAL (AP) – Cole Caufield scored at 4:43 of overtime, and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in a potential North Division playoff preview Monday.
The rookie took a pass from Jeff Petry and wired home his second NHL goal – and second OT winner in as many games. Tyler Toffoli and Philip Danault scored in regulation for Montreal. Jake Allen made 27 stops for the Canadiens. They entered, having won two in a row, including Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 overtime triumph at the Bell Centre against the Ottawa Senators when Caufield was the star.
Petry and Nick Suzuki added three assists each on Monday.
Auston Matthews, with his league-leading 39th goal of the season, and Morgan Rielly scored for Toronto, which got 20 saves from Jack Campbell. The first-place Leafs fell to 5-3-0 against the Canadiens, who chased the Winnipeg Jets for third in the division.
Toronto lost veteran forward Nick Foligno to a lower-body injury right before Matthews scored late in the second period. The Leafs and Canadiens will play twice more this week – Thursday and Saturday in Toronto – although Montreal also has a matchup with the Senators in Ottawa on Wednesday.
The Canadiens were again without injured No. 1 goalie Carey Price, captain Shea Weber, and forwards Tomas Tatar, Paul Byron, and Brendan Gallagher, while winger Jonathan Drouin remains out for personal reasons.
Leaf’s defenseman Justin Holl didn’t dress after taking a puck in the face Saturday, which opened the door for Timothy Liljegren to draw in on the second blue-line pair with Jake Muzzin. Zach Hyman and Zach Bogosian also remain sidelined with injuries.
Down 2-1 late in the third period, Danaus jammed in his fifth season with 51.8 seconds left in regulation after beating Matthews on an offensive zone faceoff.
Toffoli missed the net on a breakaway in extra time, looking for his second goal of the game before Matthews and Mitch Marner couldn’t connect on a 2-on-0. John Tavares then hit the post for Toronto.
Matthews snapped a 1-1 tie with 2:39 left in the second, tipping Muzzin’s point shot past Allen as he battled with Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson.
The goal was Matthews’ sixth in as many games, 18th in his past 18 games, and 18th in 22 career outings versus the Canadiens. Toffoli got Montreal on the board earlier in the period on a power play when he took a pass from Suzuki and beat Campbell for his 28th at 1:55 on Toronto’s third penalty of the game.
The Leafs got their first man-advantage shortly after, but Campbell had to make a big stop off Artturi Lehkonen on a 2-on-1 with Jake Evans following Rasmus Sandin’s turnover.
Allen stopped William Nylander on a breakaway later in the period, but Matthews wouldn’t be denied on his deflection. Montreal looked to push in the third, with Campbell denying Ben Chiarot on a delayed penalty before stopping Josh Anderson at the side of his net before Danault forced OT late.
Rielly opened the scoring at 4:07 of the first on a point shot through a screen for his fifth season goal and first in 13 games. The sequence was set up by Alex Galchenyuk, who earned his first-ever point against Montreal in his 10th game against the team that drafted him No. 3 overall in 2012.
Montreal came close to getting on the board later in the period when Caufield rang a shot off Campbell’s crossbar on the power play. Toronto almost made it 2-0 seconds later when Marner stole the puck from Alexander Romanov, but Allen got a piece of the breakaway chance.