The Montreal Canadiens are alive in the Eastern Conference Final, thanks to a youth movement.
Dustin Tokarski, 24, stopped 35 shots in his second career playoff start, and Alex Galchenyuk, 20, scored the game-winning goal 1:12 into overtime as the Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers in Game 3 at MSG, 3-2, cutting their series lead to 2-1.
Galchenyuk’s goal was a deflection past Henrik Lundqvist (22 saves), as Tomas Plekanec sent a pass to the Rangers’ crease. The puck hit Galchenyuk and bounced into the back of the net.
It was Galchenyuk’s second game of the postseason, having missed the first two rounds rehabbing a knee injury. It’s his career second playoff goal.
The last 3:02 of the third period were, frankly, insane.
Danny Briere scored at 16:58 of the third to give the Canadiens the lead, 2-1, his 116th career playoff point in 121 playoff games. The puck deflected off of Ryan McDonagh and in.
But the Rangers would get their own deflection goal later:
Chris Kreider’s deflection bounced off the skate of Alexei Emelin and in at 19:31, with Henrik Lundqvist pulled.
Ironically, it was Emelin’s stick to Kreider’s skate the knocked the Rangers forward awkwardly into Carey Price, injuring the Habs’ starter in Game 1.
It’s Kreider’s third of the postseason.
The Rangers took an early lead in a contentious game, that saw Brandon Prust briefly knock Derek Stepan out of the game with a late hit, fight Derek Dorsett and watch as Dan Carcillo was ejected for making contact with an official.
The play began when P.K. Subban lost the puck at the attacking blue line, sending Carl Hagelin off to the races. He passed to Martin St. Louis, who fired the puck right into the flailing glove of defenseman Josh Gorges in the crease.
It was a goal-saving play … for a second, before Hagelin batted it home on the rebound at 15:18 of the first as fourth-liner Thomas Vanek stood by taking mental notes.
The Canadiens tied the game in the second period, on a rare soft goal by Henrik Lundqvist.
Brendan Gallagher go the play going with a strong move to the middle, opening up Max Pacorietty on the wing. He found Andrei Markov across the Rangers zone who fired a low, searing shot that Lundqvist couldn’t save, and it was 1-1 at 3:20 of the second.
A few thoughts …
1. Tokarski was brilliant. His best save was this one on Marty St. Louis, stacking his glove and his left pad against the post:
That was until his glove save deflection with 56 seconds left, robbing St. Louis again.
2. The Brandon Prust hit on Derek Stepan – I saw shoulder-to-chest – changed the game in several ways, but chief among them was that the Habs finally cracked the calm veneer of their opponents. The Rangers hadn’t taken the bait for two games; this was the first time they seemed distracted by something antagonistic. (That the penalty wasn’t called only fueled that, on a night where the officials were inconsistent and rather incompetent.)
3. The Rangers had 75 shot attempts in Game 3, to the Canadiens’ 53, holding the possession advantage for the game.
4. Game 4 is Sunday night, so plenty of rest for the Habs, who looked gassed at game’s end.