After winning Game 4 against the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in overtime, the Montreal Canadiens are the first team to make it to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
Who would’ve thought that would be happening? Especially after they were the last team to make the playoffs a few weeks ago.
It has been a crazy ride for the underdogs. Against all odds, the Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games, and the Jets swept the Edmonton Oilers. Then came Round 2 and the Canadiens swept the Jets.
Does this ring a bell? Because it should.
Although I, unfortunately, wasn’t born then, meaning it’s the first time I see it, it sure seems like history is repeating itself.
Could this be 1993 2.0? Everyone sure hopes so, but for now, let’s just take the time to appreciate how far the Canadiens have come.
Not only have they been using their depth and special units to put pucks in the net, but they seem to thrive as underdogs.
The underdog players too seem to like the position and challenge. But let’s start at the beginning with Erik Gustafsson.
The third-pair defenceman scored on the powerplay and opened the scoring for the Canadiens about halfway through the first period. He was brought onto the team, for his ability to help with the powerplay, and we have seen him do it successfully in the playoffs, finally getting a goal last night, and it could not have been a bigger goal (well, maybe Tyler Toffoli’s overtime goal was bigger, but we’ll get to that later).
Then, who scored the second goal for the Canadiens? Arturri Lehkonen. While he might not be considered an underdog anymore, he certainly was for a while, and has now managed to show the team he deserves a regular spot in the lineup. However, his goal was a deflection off a snipe by Brett Kulak. Yet another underdog.
In the second period, Logan Stanley scored two goals and tied the game for the Jets, giving them one last chance to survive. But, the Canadiens came back ready to give it their all and attack in the third. They dominated, and there are only two words to describe why they didn’t win the game in regulation: Connor Hellebuyck. He was amazing, stopping shot after shot after shot. Unfortunately for him, his team was not able to produce and his performance got outshined by the Canadiens’ sweep.
However, his outstanding performance led to overtime and to Toffoli’s beauty of a goal and Cole Caufield’s pass. To be honest, I had to watch the replay a couple of times to really register what had happened because of how fast it all was.
Nick Suzuki was fighting for the puck in the corner, when Caufield went by and managed to get possession and to pass it to Toffoli, who was alone near the other side of the net. That puck went into the net, as you know by now, and is known as the goal that won the Canadiens the game and sent them to the semifinals.
It’s been an incredibly fun journey for the Canadiens so far, but the question now is, can they continue doing their magic next round?
We will find out more soon enough, as they will be facing the winner of the Colorado Avalanche-Vegas Golden Knights series. But in the meantime, they will have some much-needed rest (and practice), to make sure they are ready for Round 3.