Due to an injury to Christian Dvorak, Montreal Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis selected a lineup that includes 11 forwards and 7 defensemen against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
Jonathan Kovacevic made a notable return to the defensive squad for the final game of 2023, a 4-3 loss.
Kovacevic took the opportunity to score his fifth goal of the season during an unusual sequence. When almost everyone in the arena thought the game had been stopped after a save by Samuel Montembault, including opposing goaltender Jonas Johansson who was wandering into the corner of the ice, Kovacevic threw the puck into an abandoned cage of his own zone.
A video review confirmed the goal, as the referees did not blow the whistle to stop the game when Montembo took possession of the puck, before passing it to number 26 to take advantage of this oversight. Even the usual lighting and music effects between games are brought into play to add to this impression of a break in utter confusion.
“The stand was loud. I saw Anderson could escape, and then I saw the goalie leave his cage. I told myself I could try my luck. Unfortunately, I feel like that upset Tampa Bay and the fans. They used it to get back into the game,” Kovacevic said after the game. The story is according to Martin St. Louis, who described the atmosphere as a “serial atmosphere.”
St. Louis also said he had never seen a goal like that before, and neither had Montembault.
Fans at Amalie Arena in Florida were upset by this blunder and expressed it loudly.
CH, who then led 2-0 in the second half, also saw a relaxation. Brayden Point cut the deficit to one goal at 14:01 of the second period with a nice wrist shot, then Austin Watson tied the game when his jump pass fooled Montembault.
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