Tyler Toffoli on Monday scored 99 seconds into overtime to lift the upstart Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets and a four-game sweep of their second-round NHL playoff series.
The fourth-seeded Canadiens eliminated the Jets by using a tried-and-true formula that has worked well for them in the playoffs — scoring first in all four games in the best-of-seven series.
Erik Gustafsson opened the scoring with a power-play goal halfway through the first period.
Toffoli scored his fourth of the playoffs by taking a perfect pass from teammate Cole Caufield and blasting a one-timer past Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
“I think that’s definitely one of the bigger ones,” Toffoli said of his series-clinching goal. “It’s fun right now. We’re doing a good job. It just feels like we’re all kind of playing as one. We just have to continue like this. Hopefully, we just keep having success and keep winning games.”
Carey Price made 14 saves in front of another boisterous crowd of 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
“These guys are playing as well as any team has ever played,” Price said.
Artturi Lehkonen also scored for Montreal in their Cinderella run through the post-season. The Canadiens were the 16th and last team to book a playoff spot and are the first to reach the league semi-finals.
“Winning the fourth game is always the hardest one,” defenseman Shea Weber said. “Going through playoff series, you know that when a team is down and they’ve got their back against the wall, they’re going to bring their best effort. It’s always the hardest one to close out. You don’t want to give a team too many chances because things can turn around really quickly.”
The Canadiens are to play either the Colorado Avalanche or the Vegas Golden Knights for a spot in the NHL finals.
Montreal have won seven straight playoff games since falling behind 3-1 in their first-round series where they rallied to oust the heavily favored Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games.
Defenceman Logan Stanley scored both goals for the Jets, who were without top scorer Mark Scheifele as he was suspended for four games earlier in the series for an illegal hit on Canadiens forward Jake Evans.
Elsewhere on Monday, Kyle Palmieri, Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle all scored in the New York Islanders’ three-goal second period as they beat the Boston Bruins 5-4 to take a 3-2 lead in their series.
Mat Barzal and Brock Nelson also scored, and Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves for the Islanders, who will try to wrap up the series in game six at New York today.
Additional reporting by AP
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