Vegas Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer made a huge gamble heading into Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens. DeBoer decided to make a goalie switch starting Robin Lehner over Marc-Andre Fleury. His move paid off as Lehner played his best game of the season. Lehner stopped 27 of 28 shots to lead the Golden Knights to a 2-1 overtime victory over Montreal. Trailing 1-0 midway through the third period, Brayden McNabb tied the game at 1-1 to force overtime. Then the local boy Nicolas Roy scored the game-winner in overtime to even the series at 2-2. But Game 4 was all about Robin Lehner.
Robin Lehner Shuts The Door on Montreal
Entering Game 4 many people expected the same goalie matchup as we saw in the previous three games of the series. Fleury versus Carey Price. And it is not like Fleury has played poorly for the Golden Knights. As a matter of fact, he is having the best season of his career. And it shows with his first-ever Vezina nomination. However, no matter what head coach Peter DeBoer says about Fleury’s mistake in Game 3 not being the reason for making the switch, it had to play a factor in why he made the goalie switch now. Remember, Lehner’s last start came in Game 1 of Round 2 against the Colorado Avalanche, where he gave up seven goals in a Golden Knights loss. So it was a bit surprising to many to see Lehner in the starter’s net at the morning skate before Game 4.
Once the puck dropped on Game 4, Lehner looked completely comfortable in the net for Vegas. Even though this was his second start in 41 days. Vegas was bombarded early and often by the Canadiens in the first period and Lehner was equal to the task. The Canadiens were dictating play and the Golden Knights were the ones trying to keep up with Montreal. Corey Perry and Eric Staal had glorious chances in period one to get Montreal on the board early. However, Lehner was there to make the save. He was playing with extra motivation during this one. As Lehner said post-game: “I got here 2 hours early so I could watch you guys talk shit on Twitter, to motivate me.”
Lehner’s support from his teammates and coaches, especially Fleury gave him the confidence to go out and steal Game 4 for Vegas.
Turning Point of Game 4: Robin Lehner Denies Caufield
Lehner looked so sharp for Vegas as he was involved in the turning point of Game 4. After Paul Byron made it 1-0 Montreal late in period two, the Canadiens were looking to add their lead. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield had numerous looks, but none bigger was the breakaway he had, where Robin Lehner stopped as Caufield tried to score five-hole on him. Caufield slipped behind the Golden Knights defence as his foot speed was on display all night. He cut to the middle of the ice opening up Lehner’s pad. Caufield tried to sneak the puck five-hole, but Lehner’s stick stayed on the ice, denying the rookie his third goal of the postseason. That save by Lehner kept it a one-goal game, which allowed the Golden Knights to tie the game moments later.
With Golden Knights pressing after getting that huge save by Lehner, Brayden McNabb scored to tie the game at 1-1. The Golden Knights defence has been active all series. McNabb jumped into the play and snuck one by Carey Price, who was playing lights out for Montreal. It wasn’t a bad goal per se for Price to give up, the puck just squeaked through him.
Nicolas Roy Plays Hero
It did not take long into the overtime period for this game to end. The Golden Knights entered the zone as former Canadien Max Pacioretty used his speed to get behind the Montreal defence. Pacioretty wrapped the puck in front of the net, but Price was there to make the save. However, the puck came out in front where Roy was waiting. Roy was so patient with the puck as he put himself in an area to put the puck into the open net to end the game in overtime tying the series at 2-2.
It was Roy’s biggest goal of his career considering he is from the area. Now Roy has goals in back-to-back games for Vegas inside the Bell Centre.
Decision Heading Into Game 5
The story of the night was the play of Robin Lehner. Now Peter DeBoer has a decision. Does he stick with Lehner in Game 5 or go back to Fleury? The decision is easy really stick with the guy who won you Game 4 and that was Lehner. It feels like this is Lehner’s series now and his playoffs. Why not go for two in a row if you are Vegas. For Montreal, do not change a thing. They played great and dictated play. Just like Vegas in Game 3, the Canadiens did not get the result they wanted as they were the better team. That is how playoff hockey goes sometimes.
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