About Last Night: Habs do it for Dom, defeat Vegas 3-2 in Game 3

by 24USATVJune 19, 2021, 5 p.m. 16
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The Montreal Canadiens are two wins away from the Stanley Cup finals. Despite being outshot 45-27, the Habs defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime to take Game 3 of their third round series Friday at the Bell Centre. Josh Anderson ended his goal-scoring drought to pot two, including the game-winner. Carey Price made 43 saves in the win. It was a dramatic day for the Canadiens, which began with coach Dominique Ducharme’s positive COVID test. Luke Richardson took Ducharme’s place, with Alex Burrows and Sean Burke as his assistants. It’s the second consecutive playoff where the Habs needed to make an emergency coaching switch: Kirk Muller replaced Claude Julien last season. Otherwise, the lineup was unchanged from Game 2. More drama came in the form of last night’s referees: Chris Lee and Dan O’Rourke. Even before puck drop, the Liveblog commenters knew what to expect (or not expect) in terms of officiating. We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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Four of the first five penalties in the game were given to the Canadiens, including two in the first period. The Golden Knights didn’t receive a penalty at all last game, so when the first call of the night went to Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a collective groan came out of downtown Montreal. The Habs penalty kill remained razor sharp, killing both first period penalties. They escaped the first period tied 0-0, but were outshot 17-3. The story early, though, was the officiating. Armia got a boarding minor reminiscent of an uncalled penalty by Janmark in Game 2. The NHL really should be embarrassed by its officiating. It's so bad. #Habs #HabsIO — Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) June 19, 2021

The opening goal early in the second is one veteran Eric Staal would love to have back. Staal was behind the net, and in a momentarily lapse in judgment, passed it cleanly to Nicolas Roy in front, who shot the puck over Price’s glove to give Vegas a 1-0 advantage.

The game was tied midway through the contest, but the shot counter didn’t look any more flattering: Vegas was ahead 25-5. Vegas returned to the power play when Kotkaniemi held Max Pacioretty (and got an extra shot in frustration), but the Habs penalty kill continued to shine. In these playoffs, they still have more shorthanded goals (4) than power play goals allowed (3). McNabb got another big hit in, this time on Lehkonen, as the period closed out. The Golden Knights were outshooting the Habs at the end of the second 30-8. Alex Pietrangelo gave his team a 2-1 lead early in the third. The blueliner received a pass from Pacioretty entering the zone and wired it past Price. It was Pietrangelo’s third goal of the series.

For the longest time in the third period, it didn’t look like the Canadiens were going to mount a comeback. Time was melting away and they couldn’t even get enough offensive zone pressure to pull the goalie for an extra attacker. Then, with just under two minutes remaining, the Forum ghosts made an appearance. Fleury was playing the dump-in attempt behind the net in the trapezoid. The puck bounced off his skates and kicked out in front to a waiting Anderson, who didn’t miss the wide open net. It was a shocking turn of events in the final moments of a one-sided contest.

The Anderson goal sent the game to overtime. In the extra frame, the Montreal Canadiens appeared rejuvenated. Nick Suzuki fell trying to split the defence, causing the already testy crowd to lash out at the officials. The most egregious miss of the night came when Corey Perry took a high-stick from Jonathan Marchessault, who was swinging indiscriminately at an airborne puck. Perry’s nose immediately began gushing blood as the player fell to the ice. This not being called is worthy of an investigation lmao pic.twitter.com/KCR0bqkfgb — Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 19, 2021

With Perry in the dressing room getting fixed up, Kotkaniemi flipped the puck over the Vegas defenders and to both Anderson and Paul Byron behind them. Anderson batted down the puck, allowing Byron to carry it before passing back to Anderson, who once again found himself with a potential tap-in. He scored his second of the night and the Habs stunned the Golden Knights to take Game 3 in overtime.

You could say Perry’s nose has become the face of the league’s officiating inconsistencies. The Canadiens and Golden Knights will need to set aside whatever grievances they may have and start anew on Sunday. The Canadiens have a chance to gain a stranglehold on the series, while Vegas will seek a split at the Bell Centre. The Liveblog commenters were livid about the refereeing. What else is new, you might say? This time, the experts appear to be backing their claims. 3. “On TSN, Craig Button called this the worst officiated game he’s ever seen, and talked about how that was a clean hit by Armia, and, that Vegas defencemen Braydon McNab, should of had 4 cross checking penalties in the game.” -Ryan Katz 2. “So, with video review, we should be able to start the next game with a four minute man advantage… or at least, change the refs! was this the same ref who missed Gallagher getting cross checked in the face last year?? ” -Haari Meech 1. “Vegas has got to be like…What has just happened here tonight.” -Michael Wered

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