They are two-thirds of the top line for the Montreal Canadiens, but Artturi Lehkonen and Phillip Danault have been perfectly fine not getting points, and being under the radar.
It is fitting, then, that on the biggest goal of the post-season run to date, it was Danault and Lehkonen who were front and centre. The goal started in the defensive zone, because of course it did. Carey Price made the save. Brendan Gallagher brought the puck up, and passed to Danault who entered the zone before a perfect backhand feed to Lehkonen who made no mistake.
So much has been said about the lack of scoring against the Canadiens by star players. Whether it was Auston Matthews, or Kyle Connor, or Mark Stone. The constant was the top line. Gallagher, Danault, Lehkonen, and Jake Evans before his injury have played their role perfectly. They used the recipe that made them one of the best five-on-five lines over the last two seasons with Tomas Tatar. They had been getting more offensive zone time in the last few games, and throughout Game 6, you felt that a goal could be on the horizon.
Although they are known for their defensive wizardry, they have always had offensive abilities. Gallagher’s speaks for itself. Danault had over a point a game in the QMJHL. Lehkonen broke Daniel Alfredsson’s Swedish Hockey League playoff scoring record. They have always shown flashes of that talent, but it came together on one play 99 seconds into overtime.
“I feel blessed, very blessed,” Danault said about his role on the goal after Game 6. “To be in Montreal… in the Stanley Cup final it’s something amazing. To be from Quebec, it’s another level. I’m very proud.”
“Honestly I don’t think they get enough credit. Their biggest job shutting the other team’s top line down which they have done an exceptional job,” said Canadiens captain Shea Weber. “For them to get a goal for us to move on is awesome. I feel great for them.”
Obviously there is still one more series before the team’s final objective. On Thursday night, it just so happened that the line responsible for so many stars not being able to get a big goal was able to get the big goal.