Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Game 3 Odds, Pick, Prediction: Can Auston Matthews Keep Toronto Rolling? (Monday, May 24)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Auston Matthews.
- The Maple Leafs head to take on the Canadiens with the series level, but coming off a stellar Game 2 performance.
- Auston Matthews led the way for Toronto, which dominated the game from start to finish.
- Carol Schram breaks down the betting value in Game 3 and delivers her best bet below.
Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens Odds
|Maple Leafs Odds||-145|
|Time||Monday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM|
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost captain John Tavares to a scary-looking injury during the first period of Game 1 of their playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. They lost that night, but roared back with a decisive 5-1 win in Game 2.
The first goal of the playoffs from regular-season scoring champion Auston Matthews proved to be the game-winner on Saturday. An ill-advised coach’s challenge by Montreal failed to erase Toronto’s third goal, and the Maple Leafs locked down their zone with tight defensive play the rest of the way.
As the series shifts to Montreal on Monday, here’s what bettors should be pondering ahead of Game 3.
Toronto Maple Leafs
After losing an evenly played first game on a late shorthanded goal, the Leafs dominated Game 2 in nearly every statistical category.
At 5-on-5, Toronto accounted for a whopping 62.4% of expected goals (xG) and 56.92% of scoring chances. And a PDO of 1.002 suggests that the Leafs are getting things done with skill, not luck.
Even better, Toronto’s power play is finally clicking. Gifted six power plays in the game while giving up just one, the Leafs beat Carey Price twice with the man advantage. It’s the first time since March 3 that they’ve scored multiple power-play goals in one game, which should allow them to grip their sticks a little more comfortably in Game 3.
After getting burned on both Montreal goals in Game 1, 21-year-old defenseman Rasmus Sandin was the player who snapped the power-play drought with his first point of the playoffs. And as the Leafs leaned on their veteran leadership to fill the void left by their injured captain, 37-year-old Jason Spezza opened the scoring with his first playoff goal in a Toronto uniform and winger-turned-center Nick Foligno helped drive possession with an impressive 13-for-16 run in the face-off circle.
Of course, Matthews was the difference maker on Saturday. On top of his three points, he had 10 shot attempts, four hits, three takeaways and a blocked shot, as well as going 16-for-20 on the dot. If that’s sustainable, the North Division champions are well on their way to the second round.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
The Canadiens stuck with their physical playing style in Game 2, dishing out another 44 hits compared to 36 for Toronto. But the Leafs’ three puck-over-glass infractions in Game 1 obscure the fact that Montreal has racked up 10 player-on-player minor penalties such as cross-checking, slashing and high-sticking over the first two games, while the Maple Leafs have just four.
If the Canadiens intend to keep trying to wear down Toronto’s stars, they’ll need to make sure they stay on the right side of the law, now that the Leafs’ power play is clicking.
With just three goals in the first two games, Montreal also needs to find some scoring. After being healthy scratched in Game 1, Jesperi Kotkaniemi was the only Canadiens player to beat Jack Campbell on Saturday. The entire team managed just 23 shots on goal, giving the affable Campbell an easy night for his first career NHL playoff win.
As of Sunday, Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme had not shown his hand as far as lineup changes. But he has had a not-so-secret scoring weapon stashed in the press box for the past two games — raw rookie Cole Caufield, who lit the lamp four times during his first 10 games in the NHL after turning pro this spring, with two of those goals being overtime game winners.
Of course, there’s no 3-on-3 in the playoffs. And at a listed height of 5’7″, Caufield’s playing style doesn’t really align with the Canadiens’ beat-em-in-the-alley approach.
But teams don’t advance in the playoffs by logging the most hits. And with last change now that his club is back on home ice, Ducharme will have more control over the matchups that a player like Caufield would face.
Scoring will be crucial for Montreal if they hope to take Game 3 on Monday.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Based on Saturday’s win, it looks like Toronto is now cruising. But veteran Leaf watchers will tell you that traditionally, this team is consistently inconsistent, especially in the postseason. It’s been three years since the last time Toronto won back-to-back playoff games.
At -148, oddsmakers are giving the Leafs a win probability of just under 60%. If you’re all in on the Leafs, consider taking the puck line at +180 on BetMGM, for Toronto to win by two goals or more.
If you think home-ice advantage will keep the see-saw in motion, consider the Canadiens on the moneyline at +128.
Pick: Maple Leafs -1.5 +180 (play down to +160)