“We were really connected,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “We were in control of the game and didn’t really do anything to jeopardize that.”
John Tavares scored twice, Auston Matthews had a goal and three assists and William Nylander and Michael Bunting also scored. Ilya Samsonov made 20 saves, and Ryan O’Reilly and Erik Gustafsson each had three assists.
Marner is two points shy of becoming the fourth player in franchise history to reach 100 points, joining Darryl Sittler (twice), Doug Gilmour (twice) and Auston Matthews (once).
“Definitely a cool thing,” Marner said. “Try not to focus on stuff like that. But it’s hard when you’re this close.”
With goaltender Matt Murray still out with a head injury, the Maple Leafs signed University of Toronto netminder Jett Alexander to an amateur tryout contract - for salary-cap management purposes - hours before the game to serve as Samsonov’s backup instead of recalling third-string option Joseph Woll from the minors. Alexander played the final 1:10, but didn’t register a save.
“Pretty special,” Alexander said. “Pretty nerve-racking, obviously, but something I’ll remember. It was just, ‘Jett, you’re going in.’ Hopped over the boards and just kind of blacked out.”
Jonathan Kovacevic scored for Montreal. Sam Montembeault stopped 39 shots.
“Tough result and not the way we wanted to play,” Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman said. “They had a good night.”
Wideman wasn’t happy the Maple Leafs put Alexander into the fray late.
“They’ll get what they deserve in a few weeks,” said Wideman, seemingly in reference to the upcoming playoffs. “That’s just my opinion."
Locked into a first-round playoff matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto also has clinched home-ice advantage in the series.
Canadiens: At New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
Maple Leafs: At Florida on Monday night to open a season-ending three-game trip.
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