"Following discussions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health and hospital partners, I am happy to announce that they have signed off on allowing 550 fully vaccinated frontline health care workers, including hospital and long-term care staff, to be invited to attend Game 7 of the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena tonight", says Ontario Premier, Doug Ford.
"This is well below the arena's capacity", Ford said. "It's about the progress being made in the country and I think that's a really good sign".
Asked if Ontario would allow it, an Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Culture and Sport spokesperson said on Sunday it was just not possible for Monday. "And then as players, obviously we enjoy playing in front of people".
The underdog Habs have won two consecutive overtime games to set the stage for Game 7.
Fans left a helmet on Legends Row outside the Scotiabank Arena ahead of the game Monday night with a message, according to TSN.
Mike Babcok led Toronto to the playoffs from 2017 to 2019 but his teams were eliminated in the first round.
Their shortcomings have been the inability of top liners Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to break through offensively against a Montreal club built for playoff-style defensive hockey and the failure of their talent-laden power play to produce.
This marked just the second game seven between Montreal and Toronto, with the only other taking place in 1964. The victor of the series faces the Winnipeg Jets in the North Division final, which will start Wednesday.
"We all know how hard John works and how much he cares", Spezza said.
The task of advancing to the second round became a little tougher for Toronto, as head coach Sheldon Keefe revealed that defenseman Jake Muzzin will be out a minimum of three weeks with a lower body injury.