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Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell makes the final save of the game on Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher (11) during third period NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Montreal on May 24, 2021. The Maple Leafs downed the Habs 2-1.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The Maple Leafs won for the second time without injured captain John Tavares on Monday to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series with the Canadiens. Morgan Rielly had the winner and William Nylander scored for the third game in a row in the 2-1 victory at Montreal’s Bell Centre.

Toronto goaltender Jack Campbell had another excellent outing for the Maple Leafs in just his third career playoff start, stopping 28 of 29 shots to preserve the victory. The scorer of the winning goal was only too happy to deflect praise in his netminder’s direction after the game.

“All the credit in the world goes to Jack,” Rielly said. “He was a warrior tonight and he has been that for us all year.”

Campbell outdueled the Canadiens’ Carey Price, who was also outstanding as he turned away 27 of 29 pucks directed at him.

“He was playing phenomenally for them but ultimately we were able to get two by him,” Campbell said. “For me, I was just trying to focus on the next shot and not mess it up for the boys.

Toronto can leave the Canadiens in a deep hole with another triumph on Tuesday in Montreal. The first to win four times advances to the next stage of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That is something the Maple Leafs have not done since 2004.

This was the sixth time the long-time rivals have been tied 1-1 after two games in a best-of-seven series – and the winner of Game 3 has gone on to advance in four of those occasions. It is the 16th time they have met in the post-season but the first time in 42 years.

Tavares, who had 19 goals and 50 points during the COVID-abbreviated regular season, suffered a concussion and knee injury last Thursday in Game 1. He is unlikely to return for at least two weeks.

After a 2-1 loss to begin the series, Toronto rallied for a 5-1 triumph without him in Game 2 – and then did it again. Nylander opened the scoring at 7:18 of the second period. He has seven goals in 13 games now against Montreal this year, including the regular season.

“We love seeing Willy play like this,” Campbell said. “This is the Willy we know. He can be a dominant player.”

With Eric Staal and Jake Evans both sidelined, the Canadiens dressed rookie Cole Caufield for Game 3. The 20-year-old had four goals and one assist after he was called up near the end of the season, but sat out the first two games of the series.

Dominique Ducharme, the Canadiens’ interim coach, decided it would be better for Caufield, this year’s Hobey Baker Award winner as the best hockey player in the NCAA, to watch from the bench in Games 1 and 2.

Caufield played well but was unable to get on the scoreboard. He hit the bar with an early shot and had one dangerous chance in the third that was blocked by Justin Holl.

Both teams sputtered at the start.

Montreal failed to register a shot after it was handed a four-minute power play only a minute into the game when Alex Galchenyuk was called for a high stick that left Brendan Gallagher with a bloody mouth. Caufield was the only Canadien that came close when he banged a puck off the crossbar.

The Maple Leafs actually got off the only shot – short-handed by Ilya Mikheyev from 46 feet away.

Campbell, who had a .943 save percentage over the first two games, made the first big save on a rush by Gallagher. He also stopped a dangerous deflection by Corey Perry.

Toronto was 2-for-6 with the man advantage in its Game 2 victory, but was unable to score on its first power play. Price made a spectacular save on a sharp wrist shot by Jason Spezza to prevent the Maple Leafs from getting a lead. Nylander set up the opportunity with a beautiful cross-ice feed.

Montreal got another opportunity with the man advantage late in the first and again failed to get off a shot. The game remained scoreless as the teams went to the first intermission. Only 13 shots were generated between them.

The second period was as eventful as the first was mostly dull.

Nylander scored on a long wrist shot to put Toronto ahead 1-0 a little more than seven minutes in. Nick Suzuki then knotted the score at 1-1 less than two minutes later.

Rielly put the Maple Leafs ahead for good when he flicked a puck over Price’s shoulder three minutes and 25 seconds before the players headed to their dressing rooms for the second time. It was Rielly’s first of the series and came after a nice pass by Mitch Marner.

The period ended with Toronto on the power play as a result of a melee around the Montreal crease. Price made three rapid-fire saves – one on Auston Matthews and two on Marner – and a scrum ensued. The Maple Leafs had much the better 20 minutes, outshooting the Canadiens 20-7.

The Canadiens played desperately in the third but could not get the equalizer. They outshot the Maple Leafs 14-3 over the final 20 minutes but could not beat Campbell. On this night, he was Toronto’s best player.

“It was a great win by the boys,” Wayne Simmonds, the Maple Leafs winger, said. “We grinded it out. I thought we could have played a little bit better in the third, but in the playoffs [you] just try to find a way to win and we did that. Obviously, [Jack] was our No. 1 star tonight. He was unbelievable for us. We owe this to him for sure.”

Toronto played without Nick Foligno, who is ailing with a lower-body injury. The veteran centre sat out the morning skate, and then scratched himself after struggling in pregame warm-ups. Keefe said he will be re-evaluated on Tuesday.

With Tavares missing and Foligno hurting, other players have to pick things up. Nylander certainly has.

“The game’s harder [during the playoffs] and you learn over the years,” Nylander said. “Every time you lose, it digs even harder. You want to battle and battle and get better every year.”