Josh Anderson had scored one goal in his last 24 games. Then he scored the two most important goals of his Canadiens career.
Without their head coach due to COVID regulations, the Canadiens took a 2-1 series lead on the Golden Knights with a 3-2 stunning overtime win on Friday night. It took the most unlikely of circumstances to get there, and Anderson was involved the entire way.
The Canadiens are now 9-0 when scoring at least twice in any game during the postseason. They are also undefeated in overtime.
The Golden Knights, though, led for most of the game and the Canadiens never held a lead until Anderson’s winner.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 19, 2021
Vegas was poised to take the series lead on the road before goalie Marc-Andre Fleury badly mishandled the puck with 2:02 left in the game. He hit the puck off his skate, and it slid right to Anderson who easily backhanded it into the net to tie the game.
“It was an unfortunate bounce, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Vegas forward Mark Stone said after the game. “Fleury has been great all year. It was one mistake and we needed to bail him out, and we didn’t.”
In overtime, Paul Byron found him again on a near 2-on-0 with 12:53 left in the frame, and Anderson beat Fleury again.
Getting there wasn’t pretty for the Habs.
The Canadiens had fired just three shots after one period. The Golden Knights had already accumulated 17.
The Golden Knights did strike first, a goal from Nicolas Roy, but it didn’t last long.
On a breakaway just 39 seconds later, Cole Caufield tallied the second goal of his playoff career to tie it 1-1. He took a pass from Nick Suzuki and settled it, which was Suzuki’s first point against the team that traded him for Max Pacioretty.
Even with a score knotted up again, the Golden Knights continued to pummel Carey Price, outshooting the Habs 25-5 midway through the second frame.
The Golden Knights offensive blue line run continued in the third period, though, as Alex Piertrangelo used a quick wrister through traffic to finally solve Price with 17:37 left in the game.
It was Pietrangelo’s 11th point of the postseason, trailing just William Karlsson‘s 13 for team scoring. He has eight points in his last seven games as well.
None of that mattered for the Golden Knights, who now find themselves trailing in Montreal, and find themselves in a position where they might go home facing elimination.
The Golden Knights also failed to capitalize on the power play, going 0-for-4, a point of note for Stone postgame.
“It’s about time as a group we take a little more pride in playing on the power play,” he said.
Vegas outplayed the Canadiens for the vast majority of the contest and finished with the 45-27 shots advantage. Price finished the night with 43 saves.
Right before the play that led to Byron and Anderson’s break in, Corey Perry was tripped up by Vegas’ Shea Theodore and it went uncalled. Perhaps the missed call finally worked out during the inconsistencies this postseason.
Either way, Anderson was in a position to win it after getting the monkey off his back in the most bizarre of ways at the end of the third period, and the Canadiens — the team with the lowest point total of the postseason — is a win away from forcing the team tied for the most points to face elimination.
CANADIENS VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (MTL leads 2-1) – series livestream link
Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Game 3: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 4: Sun. June 20: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
Game 5: Tues. June 22: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 6: Thurs. June 24: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sat. June 26: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 8 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)