Habs' Gallagher: Leafs 'look different' heading into Game 7 vs. Lightning
Brendan Gallagher knows all about the Toronto Maple Leafs' playoff demons - he contributed to them, after all, by helping the Montreal Canadiens to a first-round upset of the North Division's top team last season.
As the Maple Leafs brace for Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, Gallagher doesn't think they're the same team as last year.
"I can only speak from afar, I've been watching the series - they do look different," he told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun on Friday. "We'll see how they handle it."
Toronto failed to advance in the playoffs for five straight seasons. Three of those series losses went to a Game 7: against the Canadiens in 2021 and the Boston Bruins in 2018 and 2019.
"There's definitely a lot of pressure on these players. But experience matters in Game 7, they're a group that's been through a lot," Gallagher said. "You take a lot from bad experiences as well."
The veteran forward said the Canadiens could tell the Leafs were "deflated" after losing Game 6 in overtime last year, which didn't improve when Gallagher opened the scoring in Game 7.
"It's hard in those elimination games when you get down," Gallagher said. "Because you're trying not to tell yourself - but basically you're telling yourself, 'You don't win this game, you're done.' You try to force it a little bit. The emotions of the game, they do get to you."
Puck drops on the Maple Leafs' series decider Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.