Things were looking up for Vegas when Brandon Pirri scored his second of the game and third in the last two games to give the Knights a 3-2 lead late in the middle frame.
It was a lead the Knights would hold onto for nearly 25 minutes of action, but Montreal would not be denied.
The Canadiens came back with a vengeance, out-shooting Vegas 15-4 in the third period, an effort that culminated with Phillip Danault completing his first career hat trick to tie the game at 3-3 with just 1:25 left in the third period.
GOAL. Dannault completes the hat trick with Price on the bench. We've got a game. pic.twitter.com/zFRwyInUg9— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 22, 2018
Paul Byron then scored the game-winner for Montreal just under two minutes into the extra frame.
GOAL. Paul Byron wins it in overtime. pic.twitter.com/pIpxjE3x1Y— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 22, 2018
It was a disappointing turn of events for Vegas, especially since Montreal’s second goal of the game was somewhat controversial. The play was reviewed to determine if Danault’s stick made contact with the puck above the crossbar, but it was ruled a good goal, making it a 2-2 game 8:10 into the second period.
Here's another look at the goal. Definitely looks like a high stick. pic.twitter.com/qLk8tZwGgo— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 22, 2018
Even so, Vegas took the lead once again six minutes later as Pirri converted on a breakaway, beating Carey Price five-hole off a bank pass from Brayden McNabb. It was Pirri’s third goal in two games this season and sixth in four games with the Knights.
GOAL. Brandon Pirri scores his second of the game to give Vegas the lead. pic.twitter.com/bLcQi08KzC— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 22, 2018
But the Knights were heavily out-shot throughout the contest, giving up a season-high 47 shots and losing the Corsi battle 78-52 at 5-on-5 in regulation. Marc-Andre Fleury made some brilliant saves, including this one in the first period to keep the Knights within one.
No clue how the Habs couldn't get this past Fleury. Crowd goes absolutely insane. pic.twitter.com/VywJabhstm— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 22, 2018
But his season-high 43 saves weren’t enough to slow down the Canadiens. Tomas Tatar recorded two assists in his first game back in Vegas as his team completed the sweep of the season series against Vegas. Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas, while McNabb and William Karlsson notched two assists apiece.
Considering how well Montreal played, the Knights (20-15-3) were fortunate to come away with a point. That’s not to take away from the strong performances by Pirri, Fleury and others, but Montreal clearly took over the possession game and finished with a 5-on-5 High-Danger Corsi For percentage of 60.61 in regulation.
Vegas has rarely finished a game with a gameflow chart featuring such a steep nosedive, which is a testament to how well Montreal played in this one.
The loss halts Vegas’ six-game winning streak at T-Mobile Arena, though the Knights will have a chance to get back in the win column as they host the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night in the team’s final game before the holiday break.