It had been 28 years since Canadians had been there. It had been 10 years since there was any more Canadian franchise. Yes, it’s probably been a while. Now, in 2021, Montreal will go to the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s really fun to see the guys having fun in the locker room. They deserve it, ”assistant coach Luke Richardson said after the game. Richardson occupies the head coach position with Dominique Ducharme (COVID-19) absent. “It’s hard to say how proud we are of them but they deserve it and they haven’t finished yet. They still have fire in their eyes and are already talking about it. [the final]. “
It took a long way for the Canadiens to get there, and it wasn’t until 2021. Head coach Claude Julien was shown the door in February. The team finished 18th in the league (the worst among playoff teams) with a 0.527 point percentage (24-21-11). His first two playoff games against the Maple Leafs were losses.
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But then things changed and the Canadians started to win. The courageous North Division team sent the Leafs in seven, the Jets in four and now the Golden Knights in six.
“Honestly, we wouldn’t be here right now if we didn’t believe it,” said goalkeeper Carey Price, who then paused before saying, “We have always stuck to this and have no doubts about it. ourselves. ”
There was no doubt about the winner of the series. Barely 99 seconds into extra time – yes you read that right: 99 seconds – Phillip Danault fed Artturi Lehkonen on the left wing and the 25-year-old Finn buried the puck in front of Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner .
Lehkonen’s third playoff goal (his two more against the Jets in Games 3 and 4) sealed a 3-2 overtime victory that sent the team to the boards and the crowd inside – and outside – the Bell Center in a frenzy.
“I feel blessed, very lucky to be here in Montreal and to reach, you know, to be in the final, a Stanley Cup final, it’s something incredible,” said Danault, who is originally from the province after having (which has become a tradition) a slice of pizza after the game, on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.
Shea Weber, one of the oldest players on the roster at 35, and Cole Caufield, one of the youngest at 20, scored the Canadiens’ other two goals.
The NHL handed the Canadians the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, which no one on the team touched, in the center of the ice.
“Obviously there’s a bigger one we’re chasing,” said Caufield who had also eaten pizza thanks to his pal Zoom Danault. “I think that’s the only thing we’re concerned about right now. It’s good to take advantage of it. We’ve come a long way to get here, but the job is not done.”
Montreal is now awaiting the winner of Friday’s game seven between the Islanders and the Lightning. Whichever team wins this series, the Canadiens will head south of the border to start the Stanley Cup Final.