I can’t speak for all Habs fans, but last night I was treated to one of the better hockey games I’ve ever watched.
Having played on Wednesday night in Arizona — a game they won handily — the Montreal Canadiens travelled to Las Vegas as a betting man’s underdog. One would expect them to be somewhat tired, and for large parts of the game the Golden Knights did a formidable job of putting forward pressure on their opponents to exploit said fatigue.
I’m personally not one to buy the excuse of being tired, and as showcased on Thursday night, neither are these Habs.
When Alex Tuch scored to make it 2-1 in the final minute of the first, and Vegas seemed to have control of the game, they could have packed it in. They didn’t, and Jonathan Drouin continued his renaissance season by tying it up midway through the second.
Adversity came again in a big way during the third period, as Cody Glass and Mark Stone respectively opened a two goal lead for the home team in the first 10 minutes. At that point you could almost forgive the Habs if they were to lose, but they had other plans.
Tomas Tatar found the back of the net very late in a Habs power play to make the deficit just one. They still needed a Hail Mary to draw even, so they pulled Keith Kinkaid with over two minutes remaining to ensure they’d have time. Another usual suspect, Brendan Gallagher, came through in the clutch to send the already thrilling game to overtime.
Enter, Max Domi.
Max Domi eludes Max Pacioretty and the Habs steal two points in Vegas. pic.twitter.com/r35MDb15ar— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 1, 2019
It was a beautifully patient play by Jeff Petry to set up the goal, and it capped off a night where the Canadiens faced a lot of adversity, but they refused to give up. They need to remember this game, because it is evidence that they have the tools to win even when it seems least possible, and against better teams on paper.
There is something special about this team. They may not have the star power of other teams in the Eastern Conference, but they get things done by committee. Thursday night was a perfect example of that, as they had five different goal scorers. All of the usual suspects had their say in securing two points, moving them into third place in their division.
The Golden Knights are a very good team, but even they couldn’t hold a late two-goal lead against these Habs. A comeback with an overtime win is always beautiful, but it’s even sweeter when you can do it against a legitimate Western Conference contender.
I don’t yet know how far this team can go, but if they can keep playing with the fire they did last night, I’m incredibly excited to find out.