Canadiens’ Game 4 loss provides a model for facing the Golden Knights


MONTREAL – Leave it to a Roy to be the overtime hero in Montreal.

Yes, it was Nicolas, not Patrick, who scored a goal that saved the Vegas Golden Knights from a 3-1 deficit in the series when he scored 1:18 in the extra period of a game. in which his team had nothing to do. It was a game they would have lost decisively without surprise starter Robin Lehner.

That’s what the Montreal Canadiens need to keep in perspective as they return to Las Vegas tied 2-2 with the Golden Knights in this Stanley Cup semi-final. They performed brilliantly, but ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, much like Vegas did in Game 3.

It’s hockey. It’s the playoffs. You step forward and prepare for the game that awaits you.

“We played a pretty good game,” said Paul Byron, who scored Montreal’s lone breakaway goal with 1:05 left in the second period and was even in his post-game comments. “It could have gone both ways. They score the goal in overtime. It’s like that. It’s 2-2. We’re going back to Vegas focusing on the next game, how to improve, and you’ve got a big boost for the next one. “

Before that, the Canadiens will kick off the music videos and see that they’ve done just about everything to take control of this series. They’ll see the 19 blocks they hit, the 40 hits they threw to win most battles, and the solid stick work they used to keep the Golden Knights away from Carey Price.

They will look at the numbers and see that they have held one of the strongest and most powerful offensive teams in the NHL to zero high danger opportunities through regulation and will think to themselves if they are half as successful at in the future, the outcome they desire will be there for them.

That Canadians seem to already know that the hold process is the key first step.

“I just jumped my head quickly when the guys came in,” said Canadiens coach Luke Richardson. “It’s a bit like deflation. You put in so much effort, played a solid game, but (Corey Perry and Shea Weber) said to the guys, “It’s back to business.” It’s part of the job and we’re playing well.

“You can always make changes, and we’ll look at them and fix a few things or add a few things and be ready for the next game. We knew it was probably going to be a long series (with) the way we play. And obviously they’re a good team, so we expected that. We’re going to be ready to push the next game. “

It will be difficult without coach Dominique Ducharme, who remains in quarantine after missing Games 3 and 4 of this series with COVID-19, but the Canadiens have faced challenges and have come out on the other side of all the playoffs .

They’ll have to work out Lehner, who rewarded Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer’s bold decision to pitch him after Marc-André Fleury allowed a goal in Game 3 and was beaten three times for a loss that his team didn’t quite deserve it.

“He was excellent,” DeBoer said of Lehner, who made 27 saves, including notable saves on Eric Staal, Joel Armia and Cole Caufield. “You know what, look, he could have the toughest job in hockey playing behind a legend at Flower. The way he handled that, I think, earned the respect of everyone in our dressing room. And it’s not something that people see, but it’s genuine. He’s a good man and a good teammate. He played a hell of a game for us tonight.

This was only Lehner’s second game of the playoffs, his first ending in a 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of Round 2. His last victory came on the 7th. May and he was put into a pressurized situation without a parachute.

It was a move the Swede handled perfectly, especially in the first period when the Golden Knights were outscored 11-4 and vastly outclassed.

Lehner was beaten on a perfect shot from Byron towards the end of the second, then he closed the door and allowed his teammates to take advantage of their best opportunities.

Brayden McNabb got lost in cover and scored the Vegas defense seventh goal in this series to make it 1-1 with just over nine minutes left in the third period. And Roy’s overtime winner was scored on his own rebound – shots seven and eight feet from the net, respectively, which was Vegas closest to Price in the game.

It was another reminder of how well the Canadiens played in this one and how hard it was to swallow – after putting a blanket on the Golden Knights all night and finding a way to ignore even more than 60 minutes of embarrassing refereeing.

“I think the other night we started to twist a bit and lose our temper and focus, but we fought, and I thought we were doing better as the the game was progressing, “said Richardson of the Canadiens’ way of handling the game Sunday vs. Friday. “We touched on this before today’s game that we control what we control. We just have to be confident that they are doing the right things. I think tonight we did a great job.”

It is with that same composure that Canadians must do the job at hand. They’ll be back in hostile territory in Game 5, with the crowds at T-Mobile Arena all over them, but the model is there to apply.

“We’re playing a tight defense,” said Richardson. “We are really playing with a good structure. Guys are paying the price and blocking shots and taking hits to make plays to get the pucks moving for us, and it’s huge and it’s becoming contagious for us. When you see one guy doing it, the bench rises and claps (and) the next guy comes out to do it. So I think what we want to try to do is translate all of that great defense if we can, catch the other team and try to create an attack from it. This will be the next step to take to secure victory in Game 5. “

All advanced statistics are kindly provided Natural statistics.

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