Montreal Canadiens Might Be A Comeback Team
The Montreal Canadiens might just make a series of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals after all. Following a game one drubbing at the hands of the New York Rangers, at the Bell Centre in Montreal no less, the Habs were reeling.
Not only had they suffered a huge letdown after coming back to beat their storied rivals the Boston Bruins in seven games, but after surrendering 4 goals through the first two periods of Game One, all-star goaltender Carey Price was sitting on the bench.
Backup journeyman Peter Budaj didn’t fare any better in the third period and the Canadiens looked to be regrouping before game two. Unfortunately news came in that Carey Price would miss the remainder of the series after suffering an injury when Ranger forward Chris Krieder crashed into him hard early in the second period of the first game.
Instead of starting the experienced Budaj in game two, head coach Michel Therrien decided to go with rookie Dustin Tokarski, a goaltender with less than 10 games of total NHL experience. Early on in the game Tokarski looked shaky and gave up a couple of goals that you can only think Price would have stopped.
The Canadiens kept the pressure on the Rangers and goalie Hendrik Lundquist but it wasn’t enough as the Habs fell 3-1 to the Rangers in Game Two. It looked like it was going to be a very quick and easy walk through to the Finals for New York.
Therrien proceed to surprise a few people when, ahead of game three at Madison Square Garden, he announced the team would go back to Dustin Tokarski to start the game. Montreal was putting all of their proverbial eggs in the same basket. This time the former World Junior backstop, who has also won a Memorial Cup, came to play from the very first faceoff. Making great first period saves of the likes of Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards, Tokarski withstood the feverish Rangers attack for nearly the full 60 minutes.
An early first period goal was deflected in off of defenseman Josh Gorges who had run into his own goalie was the only blemish on the score sheet until just over 30 seconds left in the third period where another pass in front deflected in off of a Montreal player, leaving Tokarski with no chance to make the save. Unfortunately for Montreal, this goal tied the game and sent the pivotal third game of the series into overtime.
Both teams started the extra frame skating quickly and with jump in their strides, but it was another odd bounce, this one going the way of the Canadiens that allowed Montreal to win the game very early into the overtime period. A hard shot that was steered away by Lundquist deflected in off of the chest of forward Alex Galchenyuck and gave Tokarski his first career playoff win, as well as made the next game in New York all that much more exciting.
If Tokarski can continue to play the way he did in game three, and if Montreal can find the jump they had for spurts in the first two games of this series, I fully expect the series to continue to increase in intensity and Montreal to take the momentum away from the Rangers. Even though they are still down, Montreal has shown that this series is far from over.
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