Fleury mistake derails Golden Knights momentum in Game 3 OT loss

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Marc-Andre Fleury made a mistake that led to the tying goal late in regulation in the Vegas Golden Knights’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre in Montreal on Friday.

But it wouldn’t have mattered had the Golden Knights given their goalie more goal support on a night when they outshot the Canadiens 45-27 and went 0-for-4 on the power play.

“We had to capitalize on a few more chances in regulation and we aren’t even talking about [Fleury’s mistake],” captain Mark Stone said. “We had lots of looks that we need to bear down and score. Fleury’s played great for us all year. It’s one mistake. We had to bail him out.”

 

[RELATED: Complete Canadiens vs. Golden Knights series coverage]

 

Fleury, whom the NHL general managers voted a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the regular season, misplayed the puck along the end boards. It ricocheted off his stick blade, bounced between his feet and skipped in front of the open net, and forward Josh Anderson buried it with 1:55 left in the third period.

Until that moment, Vegas was outshooting Montreal 39-17 and on the verge of taking the lead in the best-of-7 series.

“I saw [Fleury] in the hallway between the third and overtime and just said, ‘You know what? Let’s get this back,’ ” coach Peter DeBoer said.

Video: VGK@MTL, Gm3: Anderson ties it up on miscue in 3rd

Anderson scored again at 12:53, however, giving Montreal the series lead.

“Those type of events are tough to recover from,” DeBoer said. “We talked between the third and the overtime about trying to get our mojo back. I didn’t think we were poor in overtime. But there’s no doubt that carried into the overtime for us a little on the negative side and for sure gave them some pop going out to overtime. I think that’s what you saw in the first overtime.”

Fleury was unavailable for comment. 

“I thought we did a pretty good job of regrouping between the third period and overtime,” Stone said. “It’s just an unfortunate bounce. There’s nothing you can do about it. But I don’t think we played the way we played for the first 60 [minutes] in OT. We were a little too passive, let them come at us. Unfortunately give up that goal.”

Video: VGK@MTL, Gm3: Anderson puts home pass to seal OT win

Asked about not picking up Fleury, forward Reilly Smith said, “It is disappointing. He’s stood on his head for us all season. Goals like that are going to happen with bad bounces and ice when you’re playing into the summer. It’s not a really big deal. We just have to move forward. We should have done a better job in overtime closing it out.”

The Golden Knights have two goals from forwards and are 0-for-10 on the power play in the series.

“There’s a lot of problems,” Smith said of the power play. “I don’t think you can just pinpoint one. Our breakouts have been bad. We’re not doing a good job handling pressure. We’re not releasing the puck very well, and we’re not doing a good job crashing the net and picking up rebounds. So there’s a lot of things we have to get better at, and it’s costing us the series right now.”

DeBoer said the power play is the only part of the Golden Knights’ game that wasn’t great and they need to focus on the positive going into Game 4 at Bell Centre on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

“I loved our game,” DeBoer said. “If we can play like that for the next week, I have a hard time believing that they’re going to beat us two more times. But we’ve got to go back and look at it and particularly take a lot of the real good stuff we did tonight. If we win next game, we come out with a split, we get home ice back. This series, momentum shifts again.”

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