After a three-goal comeback fell short in their sloppiest performance of the series in Game 5, the Maple Leafs have their second opportunity to put this series to bed — this time in front of fans in the stands for the first time in over 14 months (7:30 p.m. EST, Sportsnet).

As much as Thursday’s result spiked the collective anxiety levels of the fan base, there is no shortage of reasons for optimism heading into Game 6. While the sharpness of Toronto’s execution in the first 40 minutes of Game 5 didn’t live up to the standard of their previous three performances, they actually led Montreal in expected Goals after two periods despite getting outshot. Then, with the Habs up 3-1 at the beginning of the third, the Leafs were dominant inside the dots the rest of the way, tallying their highest third-period expected Goals mark of the series and scoring twice in the process.

William Nylander also remained hot with two more assists in Game 5, bringing him up to seven points in the series, with at least a point in every game so far. While it’s been the Matthews line that has been the most dominant in terms of puck possession, Nylander’s consistent impact in this series has put him right up with Matthews as the most dangerous forward on the Leafs offensively shift over shift — and he’s finding ways to break through with consistent production. Hopefully, after he received 16:34 TOI in regulation in the last game, we’ll get to see a bit more of him going forward — especially if the team is chasing the game.

Missing Game 5 after a day off following the back-to-back wasn’t a good sign for Nick Foligno’s injury recovery, but there was an encouraging sign today with the team’s big deadline addition skating on a regular line in the team’s morning paces. Foligno is a game-time decision again tonight, and if he does return, it appears that Adam Brooks will be the scratch.

Breaking up Kerfoot-Nylander would carry some risk given they’ve been rolling nicely together and have been the team’s most consistent duo at breaking through offensively, but the addition of Foligno, should he play, could help the overall depth of the lineup. The ice-time for the fourth line was limited in Game 5 — and deservedly so, given it may have been their weakest showing of the series. Engvall should be able to give that line a shot in the arm with his pace, puck-carrying, and transition abilities.

On the blue line, in search of more reliability at 5v5, Travis Dermott will enter the fold in place of Rasmus Sandin after a few rookie moments proved costly in Game 5. There is no doubt Dermott-Bogosian has been very steady throughout the regular season and in its one playoff game together in Game 4. For all of his obvious upside long-term (and even in the playoffs moving forward as Sandin learns and adjusts), it’s been a mixed bag from Sandin at 5v5.

On Montreal’s blue line, after he sustained an injury late in Game 5, Jon Merrill will be a scratch tonight and will be replaced by Brett Kulak. Both Kulak and Merrill played around 16 minutes in Game 4 as Dominique Ducharme relied very heavily on his top four in an elimination Game 5 — we can probably expect more of the same in another do-or-die for Montreal tonight.

Game Day Quotes

Sheldon Keefe on the possibility of getting Nick Foligno back in the lineup:

We knew when we brought him in he could be a difference maker in all regards — the leadership, energy, and competitiveness that he has, the ability to play anywhere in the lineup, in different positions — all of those kinds of things. He is an important player for us for sure. Getting him back would be a boost. His status will be determined later tonight.

Keefe on the decision to reinsert Travis Dermott:

I thought Derms played a good game for us the other night when we put him in. Rasmus is coming off of a tough night. We just felt here today that going with Derms would be the right move for us. It gives Rasmus a little bit more time to settle in. It’s a combination of both learning from the previous game and gaining a little extra experience as he is making his way through his first playoff series in the NHL.

Keefe on the meaning of fans in the stands tonight:

Having some people back in the building tonight is a sign of progress for our country. That is a really good thing, of course. We have seen, in terms of the games down in the U.S., the emotion and how it can change an environment.

In this case here, it is less about our game, our sport, and the playoffs, and more about the progress being made in the country. I think it is a very good sign for everybody.

Keefe on the message to Alex Galchenyuk after his giveaway in OT of Game 5:

I wanted to be sure to have a conversation with him and reassure him that he has done a lot of really good things — not just in this series but all series long. Those should be the things he is thinking about. That should give him the confidence to come back here today and recover from a mistake like that. It is a difficult one to overcome — it would hit any player hard — but it is important you don’t let any one play define you as a player.

As we look at the big picture, he has done a lot of really good things. He was a major difference-maker for us in Game 4. He has played really well since he has come in and taken part in this series. He has lots of reasons to push past that one and be himself here tonight.

Keefe on the mentality of the team going into Game 6 after a squandered opportunity in Game 5:

I think the guys are good. They recognize that we weren’t good enough the other day. That is why we are here in Montreal tonight. The guys have confidence in themselves and their abilities. We just have to go out here today and just be who we are.

We have played a lot of games this season, and just like we have talked about with Galchenyuk, you look at what you have done to get to this point in the big picture in the grand scheme. That gives us the confidence to be able to go out, play a good game here tonight, and finish this series off.

The nature of the loss — we lose early in OT on a mistake, but the fact that we were able to find our way back in that game despite not playing at our best helps our confidence here coming into today. At the same time, we know that Montreal showed they are not going to go easily. They are going to make it really difficult on us. Today is going to be more of that.

We have to play our way through their pressure and speed, and look to establish our game earlier than we did the other night.

Brendan Gallagher on another do-or-die game for the Habs:

Nothing is a guarantee. You aren’t going to get a Mark Messier quote from me. I’ve said it all year: No matter what this group has gone through, belief has never been an issue. We have had some issues we’ve needed to sort out along the way, but the belief in this locker room will always be there. We will show up to the game tonight with the same mentality we had last game: Simplify it, try to block out the other things going on inside your mind, and win a hockey game… Find a way to survive one more day.

… We like that the game was decided at five-on-five. We feel like that is where we are going to have success. When we are killing off the penalties, it just allows the top guys to feel the puck and become comfortable. We are happy with the way the game was called. They let us play — both sides.

Each game is going to take on its own mentality here, and it’s about doing whatever it takes to survive one more day.

Gallagher on the challenges of matching up against Matthews and Marner:

That line specifically does such a good job of holding onto the puck — maybe better than any other line. When they have it, they really don’t want to give it back. They don’t waste shots. They don’t waste opportunities. They try to wheel around.

At the start of the shift especially, if you allow them to start with the puck, there is not a very high chance you are going to get it back. You are probably going to be in defend mode. You have to limit their time and space early and often and don’t let them get into that cycle situation where they feel comfortable wheeling around in our offensive zone.

They are one of the best it. [Matthews and Marner] specifically work so well together. They get their D activated and they get involved. Playing in our offensive zone is where they have the least chance to score, but you have to do it early on, and make sure you start the shift by hopefully having the puck so you can do the same thing of holding onto it. Once they have it, they’re not giving it up.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines (Foligno In)

#11 Zach Hyman – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#12 Alex Galchenyuk – #71 Nick Foligno – #88 William Nylander
#65 Ilya Mikheyev – #15 Alex Kerfoot – #24 Wayne Simmonds
#97 Joe Thornton – #47 Pierre Engvall – #19 Jason Spezza

#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 T.J Brodie
#8 Jake Muzzin – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #22 Zach Bogosian

#36 Jack Campbell (starter)
#31 Frederik Andersen

Extras/Taxi: Adam Brooks, Rasmus Sandin, Riley Nash, David Rittich, Denis Malgin, Ben Hutton, Martin Marincin
Injured: John Tavares

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines (Foligno Out)

#11 Zach Hyman – #34 Auston Matthews – #16 Mitch Marner
#12 Alex Galchenyuk – #15 Alex Kerfoot – #88 William Nylander
#65 Ilya Mikheyev – #47 Pierre Engvall– #24 Wayne Simmonds
#97 Joe Thornton – #77 Adam Brooks – #19 Jason Spezza

#44 Morgan Rielly – #78 T.J Brodie
#8 Jake Muzzin – #3 Justin Holl
#23 Travis Dermott – #22 Zach Bogosian

#36 Jack Campbell (starter)
#31 Frederik Andersen

Extras/Taxi: Rasmus Sandin, Riley Nash, David Rittich, Denis Malgin, Ben Hutton, Martin Marincin
Injured: John Tavares, Nick Foligno

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lines

#90 Tomas Tatar – #24 Phillip Danault – #11 Brendan Gallagher
#73 Tyler Toffoli – #14 Nick Suzuki – #22 Cole Caufield
#41 Paul Byron – #15 Jesperi Kotkaniemi – #17 Josh Anderson
#40 Joel Armia – #21 Eric Staal –  #94 Corey Perry

#44 Joel Edmundson – #26 Jeff Petry
#8 Ben Chiarot – #6 Shea Weber
#32 Erik Gustafsson – #77 Brett Kulak

#31 Carey Price (starter)
#34 Jake Allen

Extras/Taxi: Cayden Primeau, Michael Frolik, Xavier Ouellet
Injured/Out: Jonathan Drouin, Jake Evans, Artturi Lehkonen, Jon Merrill