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What the Puck: Canadiens' Josh Anderson keeps hope alive with magic goal

The Gazette logo The Gazette 2021-07-06 Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette
a group of baseball players that are standing in the snow: Montreal Canadiens Josh Anderson celebrates his game-winning goal with goalie Carey Price during overtime of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Montreal on Monday, July 5, 2021. © Provided by The Gazette Montreal Canadiens Josh Anderson celebrates his game-winning goal with goalie Carey Price during overtime of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Montreal on Monday, July 5, 2021.
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That was the most exciting hockey game I’ve seen in 28 years.

Like everyone else, I was super down over the weekend following Friday night’s brutal defeat and I was kind of dreading watching Game 4. Prior to the game , I was not feeling it.

But as the Canadiens have done so many times in this magical ride, they pulled off what almost no one thought they would. They kept our hopes alive. And they did it in the most dramatic fashion imaginable.

I was watching the game with my son, his girlfriend and her parents, and all five of us were on the edge of our seats at her parents’ downtown pad waiting for overtime to start with just under three minutes to go in Shea Weber’s four-minute high-sticking penalty. Did I mention high drama? Oh man, it was something else.

The best penalty-kill unit in the history of the world killed off the Weber double minor, which is just as well because I think Weber would never have lived down the infamy of sitting in the box watching the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup. He looked so miserable in the box (on the edge of his seat!).

Then came history in the making , a goal Habs fans will never forget. Josh Anderson, singled out for lack of scoring in Monday’s column, found his mojo just when it was needed. He tipped the puck forward and then barrelled down the left boards — as he likes to do — then cut to the net — as he likes to do — and somehow shoved the puck to Cole Caufield in front of the net with just one hand on his stick. He was using the other arm to hold off Tampa defender Jan Rutta.

Caufield swiped at it, Andrei Vasilevskiy made the save, and Anderson surged out from behind the net to knock the puck in the back of the net as he went flying on to the ice butt first. Beauty! Biggest goal of his career.

It was so cool to drive through downtown en route to N.D.G. hearing and feeling the joy in the air, with people in Canadiens sweaters everywhere cheering, horns honking not for the usual road-rage reasons but rather to celebrate our collective happiness.

You can’t take this away from us. We’ll always have the memory of July 5, 2021. It is already a great moment in Habs history, no matter what happens in the coming days.

And the moment came at the end of the tensest game of these playoffs for the Canadiens. Tampa Bay was on a mission in the first period, dominating the play and when the game went to commercials with the Bolts up 10-1 in shots, I thought, “A team never likes to be killing it on the shot clock yet not have a goal.” Sure enough, with the shots 11-to-1, Slick Nick Suzuki brought the puck behind the net, waited it out for just the right time and then slipped a laser-like pass to Anderson to open the scoring.

It was that kind of night. Alexander Romanov, playing his first game since June 14, scored his first National Hockey League playoff goal, to give Montreal a 2-1 lead, and in the process made Dominique Ducharme look like a genius. All of the coach’s moves paid off, with Jake Evans, in for Jesperi Kotkaniemi, playing a strong game centring a line with wingers Artturi Lehkonen and Paul Byron. Romanov and Brett Kulak looked just fine, something that couldn’t be said of Eric Gustafsson and Jon Merrill in recent games.

But at the end of the night, this victory was signed by the team’s two leaders, Weber and Carey Price. Weber went primitive on the Bolts, just what the Habs doc ordered, and that crunching destruction of Brayden Point along the boards might’ve been his finest moment as a Hab.

Then there was the resurrection of Saint Carey. He’d been just ordinary in the first three games, letting in 13 goals on 80 shots, and with Price not in heavenly form, this team usually doesn’t win many hockey games. But he looked so dialled in from the opening face-off Monday. It’s not just the saves he makes. It’s the impact on his teammates.

When Price looks human, like he did Friday night, the Canadiens stop believing. When he stops every puck that moves and wills the other ones to smack into his goalposts, Les Boys believe, like their GM, that anything is possible. And so it is. Who would’ve thought a few months back that the Montreal Canadiens would be winning in overtime in the Stanley Cup final and putting a fright into the defending Stanley Cup champions. Exactly. Precisely no one.


For all the latest on the Canadiens’ quest for their 25th Stanley Cup, sign up for our special time-limited newsletter, HI/O: Montreal’s Road to the Cup, at .


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