Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston shared a story Monday from Montreal Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski’s time in the minors.
And boy, is it one heck of a story.
As Johnston tells it, Tokarski, playing at the time for the Syracuse Crunch (the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate), was carjacked at knifepoint shortly before a game against the Binghamton Senators in Oct. 2012. The young netminder reported the incident to police, rushed to arrive at the arena just minutes before puck drop and, understandably, was not expected to play.
That plan soon changed, though. A line brawl broke out with the Crunch trailing 5-0 early in the second period, resulting in the ejections of both goaltenders and pressing Tokarski into service.
And what did the then-23-year-old do? Oh, just posted a shutout the rest of the way, finishing with 14 saves in a 6-5 overtime win.
“Tokarski comes in and, sure enough, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5, overtime and we win 6-5,” former Crunch coach Jon Cooper, who has since moved on to coach the Lightning, told Sportsnet. “That was one of the biggest comebacks I’ve ever been a part of. That’s just Ticker — he somehow finds a way.”
Tokarski will need to recapture some of that magic this week. A loss Sunday to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals pushed the Canadiens to the brink of elimination, and another defeat Tuesday in Game 5 would end their season.