Marc-Andre Fleury was two minutes away from backstopping the Golden Knights to a Game 3 win over the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup semifinals. Then he tried to play the puck behind his net.
He failed. Badly.
Fleury’s error put the puck on Josh Anderson’s stick, and Anderson promptly backhanded it into an open net for a game-tying goal. The teams wound up going to overtime Friday in Montreal.
Anderson scored again 12:53 into the extra session to give Montreal a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.
“We had a press late in the third period there and obviously we got a fortunate bounce on the tying goal,” Anderson said in his postgame Zoom call with reporters. “And in OT it looked like we had a lot more energy than them.”
Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer also noticed the difference in intensity, but he was hopeful the rest of the team would pick up Fleury.
“We’ve handled that type of adversity before. There’s been some goals like that. There was one in Colorado (in the second round),” DeBoer said in his Zoom call. “The guys have responded for him continuously through the playoffs. That was the message (between the third period and OT): just dig in and let’s get it back.”
Vegas outshot Montreal 40-21 in regulation and 45-27 for the game, but Fleury’s counterpart in net, Carey Price, kept his team in the game with saves like this twisting stop on Alex Tuch.
Price’s play put the Habs in position to pursue a tie in the final minutes, and then Fleury handed it to them. Montreal pressed in the closing seconds of regulation, too, and Fleury had to make a sharp save just before the third-period horn.
Fleury has started 15 of Vegas’ 16 playoff games this year. He has a 1.97 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in the postseason.
The winner of the Vegas-Montreal semifinal will advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the winner of the Lightning-Islanders semifinal.