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Big goal, bigger save

A play with little fanfare from Samuel Montembeault set the tone of the game early.

Vancouver Canucks v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

The common refrain goes, “Big save at one end, big goal at the other.” I’ve always loved this expression as a goalie because it helps me take credit for goals that I had absolutely nothing to do with.

However, rarely is there such a tangible example of that saying as the first goal for the Montreal Canadiens last night. Samuel Montembeault made a big save off of a tip play where he was able to redirect the rebound behind the net. That was immediately turned into a rush the other way and the possession leading to Nick Suzuki’s goal.

Redirecting or absorbing rebounds almost every time it was feasible was a theme last night for Montembeault, who had himself a terrific game despite him allowing two goals in the third period and the puck finding the post three times. According to Natural Stat Trick there were only three rebound attempts against Montembeault the whole game. With all due respect to Montreal's defence corps, this wasn't because of terrific in-zone play.

Circling back to those posts, on the first two it looked like Montembeault was in a perfect position and had the puck been on net it wouldn’t have gone in. The third post was admittedly lucky for the goalie.

From the camera angles I have access to it looked like the first goal was through at least three layers of screens and he didn’t see it. The second goal was a sharp-angle shot with a nearly impossible-to-control rebound. The fact that neither him nor the defenceman picked up where the rebound went, however, seems like a 50/50 split for the blame to me. My point is, the goal that looked bad wasn’t too bad, and the goal that looked like a harder situation should have been stopped one way or another. But one of the most important plays in the Habs’ end was an early stop that helped them kick off the offensive explosion of their own.