Montreal Canadiens Ride Hot Start to Game 2 Victory

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Wednesday night saw the Montreal Canadiens win Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Semifinal series against the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 3-2.

The beginning of the game was dominated by injury-related storylines. Chandler Stephenson served as a late scratch for Vegas with an unapparent injury. Meanwhile, it was Jeff Petry returning to the lineup for Montreal after a dislocated finger had sidelined him for the beginning of this series.

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Montreal Canadiens Win Game 2 Thanks to Hot Start, Tie Series

Montreal Zone Pressure Dominates Early

A relatively calm start was the storyline out of the gate. After injury news dominated the headlines on both sides, Vegas’ emergency third-line centre Keegan Kolesar looked motivated to start the game. But their pressure was to no avail, and soon enough, the Habs turned up the gas, catching Vegas off guard. A lengthy offensive zone shift by the fourth line eventually resulted in Joel Armia‘s fifth goal of the playoffs, 6:12 into the game. It almost looked like Vegas might even the score when Petry took a tripping penalty on Reilly Smith a few minutes later, but the Habs’ penalty kill remained strong.

The latter half of the first saw every single Montreal line get a quality scoring chance. Even with Marc-Andre Fleury playing well in the Vegas crease, a Montreal goal felt inevitable with Vegas consistently failing to clear the zone. That goal came off the stick of Tyler Toffoli, continuing an eight-game point streak to make it a 2-0 lead. Not to be overlooked here is the primary assist from Cole Caufield, whose speed and skill were on full display to start the game. The few breaks Vegas got were all held at bay by Carey Price, leaving Vegas down two heading into the second.

Two-Goal Lead Sticks Through Two Periods

The Golden Knights’ reputation for dominant second periods looked like it might come to fruition right after puck drop. They were quick to start closing the shot gap, which read 12-4 Montreal after one period. Some solid shifts, especially from the bottom six, eventually led to the second Montreal penalty of the game. Armia headed to the box for holding, and while Vegas’s offence looked better, they couldn’t beat Carey Price. They continued to pour it on, but Price was up to the task, especially onĀ thatĀ save on Alec Martinez.

It was more of the same throughout the next few minutes. Yet soon, things began to calm down on both ends. Sensing a lull in energy from Vegas, the Habs were able to take advantage of a lackadaisical Mark Stone and Nick Holden. Multiple passes were able to send Paul Byron in on a breakaway, who seemingly scored a dagger with 2:15 left to make it 3-0 for Montreal. However, the puck luck would soon quickly return to the Knights. An Alex Pietrangelo shot found its way in from the right point past a screened Price. Just over a minute later, Vegas had restored things to a salvageable two-goal deficit heading into the third.

Knights Pour It On, Can’t Tie in Third

The third started off rather calmly, as the Knights, facing a deficit, were hesitant to show all their cards early. But as things started to open up, Price continued to be up to the task, stopping Alex Tuch on a pseudo-break. Montreal were able to limit some quality but weren’t quite able to generate anything of their own. Vegas continued to force the issue throughout the third. The Knights’ active defence helped to continue creating pressure, eventually giving Vegas their first shot advantage of the night with around 12 minutes remaining. Still, despite continuing to push, Vegas couldn’t quite break the dam.

There was a roar in the arena with about five minutes left, though. Pietrangelo, pinching, scored his second goal of the game through Jeff Petry’s legs. Continuing to apply pressure, getting bodies in front of Carey Price proved crucial in getting within one. The game was almost tied just a minute later, as Jonathan Marchessault knocked down a Price clearing attempt. The Habs goalie recovered in time with a blocker save, though, maintaining Montreal’s one-goal lead. More madness ensued, with Mark Stone missing a beautiful chance with three minutes left. An objective board by William Karlsson on Joel Edmundson went uncalled with just 50 seconds left, still giving Vegas some hope. There wasn’t a victory in the cards for Vegas tonight, though. They’ll try and take the series lead Friday night.

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