SAINT JOHN – Samuel Dove-McFalls scored at 9:58 of overtime to lead the top ranked Saint John Sea Dogs to a 2-1 win over the Val-d'Or Foreurs at Harbour Station Friday evening.
With the victory, Saint John takes a 1-0 second round series lead over the 14th-ranked visitors.
Foreurs backstop Etienne Montpetit turned in arguably the best goaltending performance seen in Saint John in many years - quite possibly the most impressive display ever at Harbour Station - with 66 high quality saves. At the other end, Callum Booth was credited with 13 saves - but a few were clutch stops which allowed the Sea Dogs to earn the win.
The Sea Dogs controlled much of the play throughout the night but a series of close calls - including a couple of iron - and the aforementioned goalie clinic put on by Montpetit made for an exciting playoff match. Alexis Pepin staked Val-d'Or to a 1-0 lead after two periods. And Spencer Smallman's third period power play marker tied the contest for Saint John.
- Pepin opened the scoring at 3:25 of the second period when a turnover in the Sea Dogs zone ended up in the slot and the Foreurs' overager one-timed a snapshot to the top corner just over Booth's trapper.
- Minutes after Pepin's goal, former Foreurs star Julien Gauthier appeared to have an open net but Montpetit extended to make an amazing toe save instead.
- While shorthanded late in the second, Mathieu Joseph had a breakaway but was foiled by Val-d'Or's "little mountain."
- With 3:30 left in the second, Bokondji Imama got a shot past Montpetit but it rang loudly off the far post.
- Gauthier was robbed again in close with about 30 seconds left in the second.
- On a power play at 6:46 of the third - a mere seven seconds after Pepin was called for an attempt to separate Gauthier's head from his body with a violent elbow - Matthew Highmore sent a crisp cross crease pass to a hard charging Smallman, who snapped the puck behind Montpetit.
- On the shift following Smallman's goal, Nathan Noel ripped a shot of the crossbar. The play was later reviewed and deemed to have stayed out.
- The Sea Dogs' penalty kill was back to work late in the third and nearly connected twice for goals. First, Noel was thwarted on a breakaway, and then, Highmore's tip of a Jakub Zboril cross ice pass was stopped.
- With under three minutes remaining in regulation, Imama was the next breakaway victim of the Montpetit Show.
- Val-d'Or did not register a shot on goal in the final frame until Booth was called upon to make a nice close save on a blast form the point with ten seconds left.
- In the opening minute of overtime, both Highmore and Joe Veleno had tips that skinned by the outside of the post behind Montpetit. Then, Booth was called upon to make a huge save off a two-on-one the other way.
- For the winning goal, Dove-McFalls finished off a lovely four-way passing play as he took a cross-ice backhand pass from Noel and knifed the puck just over Montpetit's blocker to seal the win.
SCRATCHESHere is tonight's Game #1 lineup for your #SJSeaDogs brought to you by @CantrburyDental #AlwaysWearYourMouthGuard pic.twitter.com/Y7yRBUKwRr— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) April 7, 2017
Landon Quinney (appendicitis) and Oliver Felixson (upper body) were unable to play. Samuel Leblanc, David Comeau and Ian Smallwood were healthy scratches.
Samuel Dove-McFalls' game winner on the Sea Dogs' 68th shot of the game.
SN STARS OF THE GAME
1. Montpetit, Etienne
2. Etienne Montpetit
3. Samuel Dove-McFalls
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
NEXT GAMEThat feed from Nathan Noel: 😱— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) April 8, 2017
That finish by Samuel Dove-McFalls: 👌
Tonight's OT winner ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/mskbvq3JAi
Saint John and Val-d'Or meet again Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at Harbour Station for Game 2 of their best-of-seven quarterfinal series.