Dominique Ducharme delivered his usual postgame address to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday like he normally does after a big win.
Only this time, he did it virtually.
The Canadiens coach was not behind the bench for their 3-2 overtime win against the Vegas Golden Knights because of a failed COVID-19 test but did connect with his players via Zoom in the jubilant dressing room.
Seeing Ducharme urge them on was the perfect way to end a magical night for the Canadiens, who found a way to overcome a significant obstacle yet again.
“It’s been up and down this year, but I feel like we’ve always responded well to the adversity,” goalie Carey Price said. “Tonight was just another example of that. Not having Dom behind the bench is just another twist we’re going to have to deal with.”
With Price making 43 saves and Josh Anderson scoring the tying and winning goals, the Canadiens took the lead in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Semifinals. They have won nine of their past 10 games heading into Game 4 at Bell Centre in Montreal on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Price said they continue to find a way to succeed, no matter what the roadblocks
“We just don’t quit, pretty much the easiest way to explain it,” he said. “We’ve gone through a lot of adversity and we keep responding well to it.”
To Price’s point: Montreal had been significantly outplayed for large chunks of the game and trailed 2-1 late in the third period. Then, the turning point.
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was handling a puck behind the net when he accidentally banked it off his skate and into the crease. Anderson slid it into the open net to tie the game 2-2 with 1:55 remaining.
The forward then ended the game at 12:53 of overtime.
Anderson’s situation symbolizes the Canadiens never-say-die attitude. He had scored one point in his previous 24 games but refused to let it get him down.
On this night, he ended up being the hero. And when it was over, he said Ducharme’s absence was part of another roller coaster day in what has been a crazy season.
“Obviously it was very difficult, you never want to see that situation,” Anderson said. “I think most of us were pretty confused, staying in such a tight bubble, not going anywhere outside.
“We missed him tonight, but we had him on Zoom and we could hear what he had to say. When you lose your head coach it’s obviously very tough, but today we found a way to win.”