It's not often a hockey game features a battle of the backup’s backup goaltender in the regular season, but that’s what happened in Montreal in this battle of Charlie Lindgren and Maxime Lagace.
Lindgren, filling in for Carey Price, made 29 saves and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Tuesday at Bell Centre.
Lagace finished with 25 saves, and the Golden Knights finished their six-game road trip at 1-4-1.
Vegas (9-5-1) played the second night of a back-to-back (lost 4-3 to Toronto), and the Golden Knights got off to a slow start because of it. They were unable to generate much of anything offensively in the early going.
It mirrored last night’s game in that the Golden Knights looked lethargic in the first period, found a way to keep it close, and then mounted a comeback late.
Unfortunately for them, this comeback fell a bit short.
Vegas went seven minutes without a shot on goal while the Canadiens raced out to an early 2-0 first-period lead, highlighted by this goal from Brendan Gallagher at 8:24 in the first period.
Someone might want to tell Engelland to cover Brendan Gallagher.— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 8, 2017
Habs up 1-0! pic.twitter.com/g40Jno2jCc
The score doesn’t tell the story of a game, sometimes. Vegas was outshot 13-2 in the first period, but trailed only 2-1 thanks to this beautiful series of dangles of noted offensive legend Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Vegas only doubled its shot total to four at the haflway point of the second period, while the Canadiens took a 3-1 lead, thanks to Max Pacioretty’s sixth goal of the year at 3:31 in the second period.
Excellent play by Andrew Shaw sets up Jeff Petry for the shot, which is tipped home by Max Pacioretty!— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 8, 2017
Habs leading 3-1 pic.twitter.com/yFBlNqmVOI
Now, sure, it would be fair to say that Lagace, a fourth-string goalie who entered the with a 4.03 goals-against average and an .860 save percentage in five games, wasn't great in this one.
However, it can’t be said that he was the reason for this loss. Lagace was the reason this game was close, making major saves in timely situations.
Even as they outshot the Canadiens 29-15 in the final two periods combined, Vegas couldn’t sustain the pressure and weren’t a threat until the final stages of the game. Ultimately, their slow start and the second period doomed them. They appeared a step slow, a bit sloppy, and at times lethargic in the first 30 minutes.
This is not to take anything away from Lindgren who, in his second start of the season and coming off a 38-save shutout over the Chicago Blackhawks, made some great saves in the dying moments of the game, but overall there were only a few that ever really felt like credible scoring chances.
Though, there were one or two.
What a save by Charlie Lindgren on James Neal pic.twitter.com/BnSmVMXHEP— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 8, 2017
The Golden Knights added a late goal by Erik Haula to cut it to 3-2 with 1:37 remaining but it was too little too late.
The highlight of this game was Bellemare. In addition to scoring that goal, he always showed what can only be described as a death wish as he blocked a Shea Weber point shot (+100 Grit Points). He was probably Vegas’ best player on the ice Tuesday.
Bellemare follows his goal up by staring death in the face and blocking a Weber shot. pic.twitter.com/1VHcCb34Ld— EK65 (@nhlsensandstuff) November 8, 2017
And thus ends the Golden Knights’ first extended road trip of the season. They finish 1-4-1 picking up just three of a possible 12 points and return home in desperate need of a win Friday against Winnipeg, and the return of some kind of healthy goalie.