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Keith Kinkaid and Cale Fleury deserved better on Saturday

A pair of Canadiens shouldn’t let a bad ending overwrite a great night for them.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of storylines coming out of Saturday night’s ref-addled travesty of a game at the Bell Centre. Nick Suzuki continues to thrive, NHL officiating is at an all-time low for competence, and Shea Weber is still producing points, to name a few.

One that shouldn’t slide from memory so easily is how well Keith Kinkaid played to even keep the Montreal Canadiens in the game after a very sluggish start. If not for Kinkaid, the Canadiens were likely leaving the first period in a multi-goal hole, one that they likely weren’t climbing out of if the game continued on the same trajectory.

While his .907 save percentage isn’t the brightest stat he could have, Kinkaid was everything the Canadiens needed in their backup goalie. He faced 43 shots and six power plays by the time the game ended. The Canadiens didn’t find their legs until the third period, and without his strong play through the opening 40 minutes, Montreal would have likely been sunk.

Then there’s the rookie, Cale Fleury, who finally broke the goose egg, scoring his first NHL goal in style. Fleury took a pass, drove right through the heart of the New Jersey Devils’ zone, and flicked his backhander to the net and got his first-goal ovation from the Bell Centre crowd.

It was a special moment, but it’s how he followed it up that makes it even more incredible. With Kinkaid out of his net in a defensive-zone sequence, Fleury dove across the goal to save a shot, then kicked away the follow-up chance to keep the lead intact. These two things happened about a minute apart, and it’s amazing to see just how far the young defender has come since his draft year.

Unfortunately, since the team lost, Fleury still has yet to see his Twitter emoji from his backup goalie. Maybe next game he’ll factor into the offence to get his first shoutout.