In fairness, Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a lot more help than Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price. So while Price was a little duckling in a carnival shooting gallery, Fleury had time for bowls of poutine between shots.
Yet the Montreal Canadiens won Game 3 in OT, 3-2.
Montreal didn’t get their first shot of the game for 11 minutes and had just three in the first period.
The Golden Knights held Montreal to just five in the second period.
On the other end of the ice, Price scrambled for his life and that of his team. The Golden Knights had the opportunities and really should have buried Montreal by the middle of the second period, by Price’s acrobatics kept the game tied or close.
But they don’t ask how many saves you made. They ask how many you didn’t make. For 57 minutes, Price didn’t make two saves. Fleury allowed only a breakaway goal by rookie sensation Cole Caufield.
And then FLeury’s old nemesis–bad stickhandling–bit him in a bad way. A bad, bad way.
Late in the third period, with a Game 3 victory waiting, Fleury misplayed a puck off the end wall. Fleury left the crease to play the puck–after NBCsn showed a pair of montages to praise Fleury’s puckhandling–but the puck slid slowly through Fleury’s feet to a grateful Josh Anderson.
Montreal’s grinding forward quickly poked the loose puck into an empty net. The impending 2-1 Vegas win became a 2-2 game and overtime.
In OT, Marc-Andre Fleury made a few big saves on Joel Armia, who had an unabated chance early in the period. Fleury made an acrobatic save on Nick Suzuki halfway through the period and stuffed a wraparound chance by Corey Perry, but after being dominated for nearly 60 minutes, Montreal finally found their stride.
It wasn’t the first game or playoff game Fleury gave away or nearly gave away with ghastly stickhandling. He likes to do it. But he makes mistakes, too. His bad reputation bedeviled and caused anxiety in Pittsburgh.
This whoops is from 2012:
This was Game 4 of the Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 Round One series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. With 21 seconds remaining, Fleury gave away a sure win. Pittsburgh won the series, but they had to sweat.
For fans who are new to hockey, there was the infamous 2004 World Juniors meltdown. Team Canada led by three in the third period. And lost when 18-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury hit his own defenseman with the puck, and Team Canada lost to Team USA in the Gold Medal game.
In the end, a turnover became a two-on-none and Josh Anderson scored again. Montreal won. And if we know Fleury, he’s going to kick himself hard for the momentary lapse.
It cost the Golden Knights Game 3, and they now trail the upset-minded Montreal Canadiens 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Don’t expect Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer to announce a starter before Game 4 Sunday, but don’t be surprised if Fleury gets to watch another game. The hockey gods don’t reward teams that dominate but lose.