Travis Dermott of Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens with teammates William Nylander, John Tavares and Jake Muzzin from left to right, during the second period of NHL hockey action in Montreal on Wednesday , the 10 February 2021 (Paul Chiasson / CP)

Well known sniper William Nylander was alone and opened up on the left circle His right-curved weapon cocked back expectantly and wanted to break out a 1: 1 defensive fight in the third period

Surely pointman Justin Holl – he had 10 shots all year round – would be feeding Nylander in his wheelhouse when the Toronto Maple Leafs broke into the Montreal Canadiens zone

After all, teammates had recently debated whether Holl was a Disher or a Shooter, and Holl had been confident he was the former

“When I landed at the end, I saw Willie out of the corner of my eye,” Holl described the turning point on Wednesday. When I came down I said, ‘Oh man Willie is going to want this cookie, you know? But it went in and everything is fine, that ends well ”

As Holl and the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a head start on the ice of the enemy Bell Center, Nylander hugged his neglect with the message, “You are a shooter”

“It’s actually been a while since I’ve met a goalkeeper I think my last one was a blank nice, and then it was a while ago. It feels good”

Before Holl could retire to the visitors’ room and celebrate the timely sniff of his 350-day drought, Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukazier asked if he had envisioned his first of 2021 as a long-range rocket slapshot that shot high past Carey Price

The Maple Leafs’ best eleventh win in the league – a brave 4-2 triumph over the North Division’s closest chasers – didn’t look quite like the 10 that preceded it

After ardent Josh Anderson beat Frederik Andersen in Montreal’s first shot of the night, Toronto’s boxing score heroes were the most unlikely breed

Defenseman Travis Dermott has been in and out of the line-up year round, first for the club’s rating of newcomer Mikko Lehtonen and more recently with a nasty Charley horse, but Dermott made no mistake when he got a shooting range, after a prolonged shift in pressure in the O-Zone weakened Montreal

He high-blocked Price and beat the future Hall of Famer for the first time in 405 days

“Nice to have one,” said Dermott, “I didn’t plan to come out and score goals today”

Holl and Dermott set the table for the longest drought buster of all: Ilya Mikheyev scored his first goal, the eventual winner, in 411 days

The last time the Russian lit the lamp was on that terrible night in New Jersey, December 27, 2019, when he sped off the ice with a torn wrist and was rushed to the hospital

The winger says he doesn’t think about his long walk between goals, he was just trying to help the team in some way

But Mikheyev was no less pleased to see his 23rd birthday Shot of the year finally hit gold. The same goes for his teammates

“He must have had the most chances in the league without one,” said John Tavares, who collected two assists

“He’s so quick,” Matthews said. “You see it every night, his ability to get around defenders and get on pre-exam first. He’s had a lot of instances this season where he’s just been blown off the back and those Has hit the crossbar or the goalkeeper saved well

“It just builds trust in the whole lineup Dermy has been gone for a while He comes back and scores a big big goal for us Holl Mickey gets his first too I think this is all really positive stuff for us These guys are feeling it, get confidence, they start rolling It’s great It was a huge win for us tonight too ”

If Matthews and Mitch Marner with eight game goal and Screaming dot stripes to Montreal, who would have picked these stripes to be sniffed?

Instead, 1166 collective days of individual Leafs breaking into the target end On Carey Price no less

“They only pull it out when it matters most,” said Dermott and Holl coach Sheldon Keefe. “In either case, the defenders, and probably the goalkeeper, don’t expect them to shoot and fight like that”

With Montreal dominating possession, if not Class A, in a drawn game, Keefe had challenged his troops on the second break to deliver their best time of the year

Toronto has built its reputation as a strong team patient enough to score two points in one breakout

“We obviously rely heavily on our star players and they bring it up every night. But one night or another when they’re kept in check,” Holl said, “it’s nice to see a secondary scoring that is the sign of really good teams ”

Hell, Holl couldn’t even bother considering Nylander’s feelings the next time he loads the howitzer

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