Here are a few post-game notes on game 3 between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins, a game in which the Pens surrendered a 3-1 lead to a surging Habs’ team who, let’s admit it, were the better team at 5 on 5.
Weber scored the first goal of the game, joining the rush and putting the puck into an open net after Matt Murray made two great saves.
But then the Penguins’ first two goals were on the powerplay and, might I add, on rather not one, but two weak calls by the referees. First, Ben Chiarot was called for slashing, which really was more of a love tap in playoffs’ standards. Then, during that same powerplay, Shea Weber was call for cross checking, likely more because his victim fell towards the boards. We have seen a multitude of non-calls on infractions much, much worse than those two infractions and the Pens took advantage of the referees generosity by taking a 2-1 advantage in the first period.
The game’s turning point happened ironically on one of those bad non-calls by the referees. Chris Tanev hammered rookie Jake Evans from behind and the young forward was dazed and didn’t come back in the game. This act should have been at least two minutes for boarding but both referees deemed it to be a legal hit.
Prior to that hit, the Canadiens’ offense was non existent and the Pittsburgh was coming in waves. But with Evans out of the line-up, Canadiens’ head coach Claude Julien was forced to modify his lines and by the same token, give Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Max Domi (amongst others) more ice time.
And that’s when Weber took things in his own hands as the Canadiens scored three consecutive goals to tie the game at three.
Monkeys off their backs
Two Canadiens’ players who had been rather invisible in this series thus far scored goals. First, Jonathan Drouin must have felt lighter after a visible haircut as he deflected a pass/shot from Chiarot to make it 3-2. There’s one big monkey off Drouin’s back!
Then Paul Byron scored by beating Murray on a wraparound to tie the game. Monkey number two off another player’s back as Byron wasn’t playing his best hockey up until that point.
Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal of the series by picking a corner almost from the goal line, over the shoulder of a crouched Murray. A perfect shot.
The Canadiens didn’t sit back on their lead and had it not been of Murray’s spectacular goaltending, they would have added to their lead. For the most part, the Habs stayed out of the penalty box after taking the lead but Byron took a hooking penalty at 16:28 of the third period. The Canadiens’ penalty killing units did a great job and ended up skating off the ice with the win.
Few people had predicted that the 24th place Habs who had unloaded four players by trade deadline could offer much resistance to the mighty Penguins but they are now in the driver seat in this best of five series, having a 2-1 series lead. Go Habs Go!