The Montreal Canadiens, behind a 35-save performance from Dustin Tokarski, squeezed out a 3-2 overtime win over the New York Rangers in Game Three, cutting the Rangers' lead in the series to two games to one.
Tokarski, a somewhat controversial choice -- with his 10 games of NHL experience and all -- to replace an injured Carey Price in Game Two had a night to remember, turning back a Rangers team that was dominating play from the get-go, outshooting the Canadiens 14-4 in the first period and 37-25 overall. The Rangers had 58.2% of the shot attempts during 5-on-5 play.
The winning goal, at 1:12 of overtime, came on a rebound that was kicked out by Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist and hit Canadiens LW Alex Galchenyuk in the neck, bouncing back into the Rangers' net. It was Galchenyuk's only shot attempt of the game in his second game of this year's playoffs.
The game's last three goals all came on unusual bounces. The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead with 3:02 remaining when Daniel Briere's attempt to stuff a rebound off the end boards was knocked in by a sliding Ryan McDonagh. Then, with the Rangers' goaltender pulled in the final minute, Dan Girardi sent a puck towards the net, it deflected off Rangers LW Chris Kreider, then off the heel of Canadiens D Alexei Emelin, earning a tie with 29 seconds left in regulation.
Galchenyuk wasn't the only Canadiens player to score his first of the postseason in Game Three. Veteran D Andrei Markov scored Montreal's first goal.
The Rangers' first goal was knocked in by Carl Hagelin, his fifth of the playoffs, tying him with Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards for the Rangers' team lead. St. Louis had a game-high 11 shot attempts in Game Three, including a couple of Grade A chances, including a one-time shot on a 2-1, which immediately preceded Hagelin's goal, and was stopped by Canadiens D Josh Gorges.
Rangers D Kevin Klein doesn't get the tough matchups, but he had success in his role in Game Three, on the ice for 24 shot attempts for and six against (80.0%) during 5-on-5 play. The Rangers had 50.0% of the even-strength shots when Klein was off the ice. Klein and partner John Moore started every one of their shifts in the offensive or neutral zone.
Canadiens C Lars Eller was the opposite to Klein, on for 23.1% of the shot attempts at 5-on-5 and Eller didn't attempt a shot the entire game, in 15:02 of ice time.
Montreal's win makes for a much more interesting series, to be sure. Game Three brought out some hostility that hadn't appeared earlier in the series. Canadiens LW Brandon Prust laid out Rangers C Derek Stepan (who returned to the game) with a late hit and later fought Derek Dorsett, but it wasn't just Prust. There were more extra pokes and physical confrontations throughout the game. Canadiens RW Brendan Gallagher and Rangers D Ryan McDonagh waged quite a battle throughout the game.
While hostility between the clubs can make for a more interesting series, the fact that the series is 2-1 in favour of the Rangers, rather than 3-0, is reason enough to believe that the Canadiens have a chance to make something out of this situation. They probably can't count on having Tokarski get the better of Lundqvist in the goaltending matchup too often, but that got the Canadiens through Game Three and that's enough to keep their hope alive.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.