Marc Bergevin’s off-season acquisitions pay dividends in last-second victory
It was a crucial off-season for Montreal, and their newest players had a major hand in the Canadiens’ win on Thursday night.
After a disaster year, this off-season was crucial for the future of the Montreal Canadiens, and Marc Bergevin had the unenviable task of trying to right his wayward ship.
He and his staff landed on the divisive (at the time) pick of Jesperi Kotkaniemi at the NHL Draft. They swapped Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi. And just before training camp, Max Pacioretty was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights.
That is no small amount of turnover. They traded away two of their best offensive pieces for players who were underperforming on their own teams, and it’s paid off big time for the Canadiens.
Against the Washington Capitals, the never-quit Canadiens scored a game-winning goal with 22 seconds left, after tying it moments earlier. Those goals came from two of the off-season’s biggest acquisitions in Kotkaniemi and Domi, and for the latter it was especially vindicating after Braden Holtby got in the way of a goal earlier in the period that would have tied the game.
It wasn’t just Domi and Kotkaniemi though, even if the rookie’s first NHL goals were a massive factor in the game as a whole. It would be wrong to not acknowledge the play of Tomas Tatar as well. His two assists had the Canadiens offence rocking early in the second period, and if not for Michal Kempny’s face he would have tallied a goal too. He was the secondary piece in the Pacioretty deal, and since his arrival he’s played with a chip the size of a Montreal pothole on his shoulder.
The Slovak cut in and out of the Capitals' defence and was timely in his setups of both Brendan Gallagher goals.
Joel Armia also gets a mention for helping set an NHL record by scoring just two seconds after Max Domi, it might have been into an empty net, but it added an exclamation point to Montreal’s win.
It was a crucial off-season for Montreal, and early returns have the Canadiens coming out ahead on all their bets. Their win over the Capitals showed that this is a new team, and the new faces on it are driving them in the right direction.