The Montreal Canadiens looked like a team that was largely dead in the water after they fell down 3 -1 in their first round series against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that many believed was a clear favorite coming into the series, but with back to back wins in overtime the Habs have come roaring back into this series and forced a Game 7.
That overtime win in Game 6 has left the Canadiens brimming with confidence and one only needs to look at the reaction on social media from fans in Toronto to realize that the momentum in this series has been completely reversed. The long history of failure from the Maple Leafs has come back to the forefront and it feels like all of the pressure is now firmly on the shoulders of the Maple Leafs' top stars, who have been largely invisible in this series so far.
An indication that the Canadiens are playing with all the confidence in the world came immediately following Montreal's Game 6 victory in front of 2,500 fans on Saturday night, the first game played in front of fans in Canada all season long, when the hero of that game forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi issued what appeared to be a guarantee that the Canadiens would take home Game 7. Kotkaniemi, seemingly unpromoted, stated flatly that he and his teammates would be going into Toronto to claim a win in Game 7 and would be coming back home to Montreal to prepare for their second round series.
"We will go there and get the win and get back home," said Kotkaniemi
Kotkaniemi, Montreal's first round pick (3rd overall) at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, by all accounts had a down year during the 2020 - 2021 regular season. His 5 goals and 15 assists for a total of just 20 points over 56 games were less than what had come to be expected of him after a strong showing in the National Hockey League's playoff bubble, but unlike Toronto's top stars he has showed up when it matters most. He has 3 goals in his 5 playoff games for the Canadiens thus far in this series, and none was bigger than last night's OT winner.