The Vegas Golden Knights will head North of the border to the Bell Centre to face the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens vs Golden Knights series is all locked up at one game apiece in this seven-game Stanley Cup Semifinal.
Montreal is heading back home with the momentum after getting the Game 2 road victory at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Canadiens were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and would add to that lead with a Paul Byron goal late in the second period that would be responded to by Alex Pietrangelo, making it 3-1 heading into the third.
Vegas was able to make it interesting by scoring another late goal in the third, again from Alex Pietrangelo. However, Carey Price and the Canadiens would put up their walls and would close out the game for a 3-2 victory.
Canadiens Depth is the Key to Victory
It was thought by most pundits that whoever came out of the Canadian North Division would struggle against their American counterparts due to the lack of competitiveness in their division. And after Game 1, it seemed that this would be the case.
Then came Game 2. The Canadiens fast start put those comments to rest and showed they were here to play, and they are not going anywhere. They got production from all lines, and their pace and energy were much better than what they showed in Game 1.
Tyler Toffoli added to a goal to his team-leading 12 points with a goal in Wednesday night’s victory. He has been one of the keys to Montreal’s magical run this season and postseason after they acquired him this offseason in free agency.
Price made 29 saves on 31 shots and notched his 39th career playoff win. He is almost back to .500 in his career in the playoffs. He has 39 wins compared to 40 losses.
All of these players will be instrumental in the ability of the Canadiens to stay in this series against the favored Golden Knights.
One reason for their success on Wednesday was the success of their penalty kill. They went to the box twice and shut down Vegas both times.
They did not have any man advantages on Wednesday and will hope to get the zebras on their side in Game 3.
Vegas Needs to Capitalize on Opportunities
After their Game 1 victory 4-1, the Golden Knights seemed to have the easy advantage over their North Division opponents. Now they head to Montreal tied, hoping to steal one game on road ice.
Their slow start was costly, as they were not able to make up for their 3-0 deficit heading into the third period. Pietrangelo did his best to play hero, but they came up short.
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed 3 goals on 23 shots and needs to return to the form he showed in Game 1 if Vegas wants any shot at winning this series.
Vegas’ top line of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Nicolas Roy was completely quiet and shut down. They all recorded a -1 plus/minus. They, too, will need to pick it up. Vegas lacks the depth scoring to compete with the four lines on Montreal.
Look to Stone and Pacioretty, especially to get more shots towards Carey Price to get more chances and try to fluster Price.
Although Montreal was in control for the whole game, Vegas still had their chances, but they failed to capitalize. They went 0-2 on the power play and will look to improve on that in Game 3. So far this postseason, their top stars have failed to produce on the power play.
Stone and Pacioretty both have only 1 assist and no goals on the power play. If their power play can gain momentum, they would be a hard team to stop, but that hasn’t been the case.
While I do think Vegas is the better team, there is just something special about this Montreal team this postseason. They are motivated and determined and look like a team that wants to end the 28-year Stanley Cup drought for Canadian teams.
Both teams will need to capitalize on their chances in Game 3, as I anticipate a goaltender battle in our future. Price and Fleury will both shine in tomorrow’s game, which will be a turning point in this series for whoever comes out victorious.
Montreal will host a home Conference Final playoff game for the first time in 11 years since their trip to the Conference Finals vs. the Philadelphia Flyers. Bell Centre will allow fans for the first time this season and will have a crowd eager for a victory.
With the Canadiens being backed by their home fans for the first time this season, they will come out with the win Friday night.
Final Picks: Canadiens ML (+140) u5 goals (+120)