The Montreal Canadiens are now one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final after a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday in Game 5 of the semi-final series.
Montreal Canadiens Knock Off Vegas Golden Knights to Take Game 5
Golden Knights Turn Back to Fleury
After nearly two days worth of speculation, it was announced pregame that Marc-Andre Fleury was the starter for the Golden Knights. The veteran netminder backed up Robin Lehner in Game 4 where Vegas won 2-1 in overtime to tie the series. Fleury sported a 9-6 playoff record coming into action with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
Also drawing into the Vegas lineup was centre Chandler Stephenson, who had missed the previous three games due to injury.
Leading the charge 💪 pic.twitter.com/2vxUUyGsON
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 23, 2021
Unsurprisingly, Carey Price returned to the Montreal net with a 10-5 record, 2.09 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. The Habs were still without their head coach, Dominique Ducharme who remained in quarantine as part of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.
Habs Open Scoring in Second Straight Game
Officiating was a contentious issue following Game 4 of the series where both teams had just one powerplay each. The officials quickly rectified that, calling a penalty on Paul Byron for a cross-check on Zach Whitecloud just over two minutes into the game. Vegas was unable to convert on the powerplay for the 13th straight time in the series.
Then, the Habs responded. Without a shot on goal in the first eight minutes of the game, Josh Anderson was sent in on a partial breakaway. His initial backhand shot was stopped by Fleury, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi cleaned up the rebound for his fifth goal of the postseason. It was the 20-year-old’s first goal since Game 1 against the Winnipeg Jets.
— NHL (@NHL) June 23, 2021
After the ice-breaking goal, play evened out between the two teams. Each team had six shots on goal after 20 minutes, with Montreal enjoying a 1-0 lead.
Montreal Pours it On
The Canadiens continued into the second period with strong play. About six minutes into the frame, Paul Byron was set up in tight. Fleury made an impressive stop to keep it a one-goal game.
After a goal from a veteran, the Habs prized rookie followed suit. On a Montreal power play, Vegas’ Mark Stone gave the puck away at the opposing blue line which led to a counter-attack. Corey Perry shovelled a pass to Cole Caufield, who quickly snapped it past Fleury to extend the Canadiens’ lead to 3-0. It was the 20-year-old’s third goal of the series.
Le but était beau. La passe était encore mieux.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) June 23, 2021
Golden Knights players were visibly frustrated in the second period. The team had committed 10 giveaways through 40 minutes compared to Montreal’s two. The Habs led the shot clock 17-15, having thrown 15 more hits than the Golden Knights through two periods.
Habs Lock it Down
Entering the third period down three goals, Vegas finally got on the board. Off a Nicolas Roy faceoff win, former Canadien Max Pacioretty sniped a shot over the blocker of Carey Price for his fifth goal of the playoffs. That made the game 3-1 with about 15 minutes to play.
But Montreal locked it down for the remainder of the game, blocking 17 shots before they reached Price. The Habs netminder finished with 26 saves.
A Nick Suzuki empty-net goal cemented the 4-1 win for the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5. They will have a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals on home ice Thursday night.
Montreal Canadiens Game 5 Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images