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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Canadiens advance to first Stanley Cup Final in 28 years

For the first time since the last time they won the Stanley Cup in 1993, the Montréal Canadiens are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, in overtime on home ice in Game 6 at Bell Centre on Thursday night.

With the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl secured, the Canadiens have now won every trophy in National Hockey League history and join the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders as the only teams to have won both the Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy in franchise history.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the biggest goal of his short five-year NHL career thus far a little more than 90 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens won the series 4-2 to advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Habs netminder, Carey Price (12-5, 2.02 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in 17 games played), stopped 37 out of 39 shots faced in the win.

Robin Lehner (1-2, 3.63 goals-against average, .887 save percentage in three games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

Golden Knights head coach, Peter DeBoer, fell to 12-7 when facing elimination all time in his career behind the bench of an NHL team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Meanwhile, Montréal improved to 11-2 when scoring first this postseason and 11-0 when scoring at least two goals in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They’re also the first Canadian NHL team in the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games (4-3) in 2011.

Jake Evans remained out of the lineup for Montréal, while DeBoer swapped Nick Holden on his defense with Nic Hague and gave Lehner the start over Marc-Andre Fleury on Thursday.

Luke Richardson led the Canadiens behind the bench for the fourth time in the series while Dominique Ducharme remains in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to Game 3.

Vegas General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, remains out of commission in isolation as well, having tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Game 4.

Nicolas Roy caught Jon Merrill with a high stick and presented the Habs with the first power play of the night at 1:56 of the first period.

Montréal was unsuccessful on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

It wouldn’t take the Canadiens all night before they found a way to convert on the power play as Alex Pietrangelo presented the Habs with their second advantage of the night as a result of a roughing infraction at 12:36.

This time, Montréal used up about 90 seconds of power play time before Alec Martinez went to clear the puck out of the zone but failed as a result of his stick shattering and an errant puck landing on Shea Weber’s blade instead.

Weber (1) unloaded on an unassisted slap shot past Lehner’s blocker side while Jesperi Kotkaniemi screened the Vegas goaltender to give the Canadiens a, 1-0, lead on a power-play goal at 14:06 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, though, the Golden Knights responded and tied things up, 1-1, thanks to a shot pass from Shea Theodore that Reilly Smith (3) redirected behind Price on the low blocker side.

Theodore (9) and William Karlsson (11) tallied the assists on Smith’s goal at 14:54.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite the Golden Knights leading in shots on goal, 10-8.

Vegas also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), giveaways (11-5) and faceoff win percentage (52-48), while Montréal led in takeaways (1-0) and hits (10-7).

The Canadiens were 1/2 on the power play, while the Golden Knights had yet to see time on the skater advantage after one period on Thursday.

Tyler Toffoli hooked Smith early in the middle frame and cut a rut to the box at 3:15 of the second period– presenting Vegas with their first power play of the night as a result.

The Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the ensuing advantage, however, and would go back on the penalty kill shortly after Montréal killed off Toffoli’s minor.

Vegas had too many skaters on the ice and sent Keegan Kolesar to serve the bench infraction at 5:42 of the second period.

The Canadiens failed to score on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson worked to get the puck out of their own zone as Edmundson fed Cole Caufield with a lead pass through the neutral zone that Caufield deflected over Brayden McNabb’s stick while breaking into the attacking zone.

Caufield (4) drove to the net and elevated a shot high on Lehner’s glove side to put the Habs up, 2-1, midway through the second period.

Edmundson (6) and Petry (5) notched the assists on Caufield’s goal at 9:36.

Eric Staal hooked Kolesar at 11:04 of the second period and presented Vegas with their second and final power play of the evening, but the Golden Knights couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage as the Canadiens went on to kill off their 30th consecutive infraction this postseason– extending their ongoing franchise record as a result.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Habs led, 2-1, on the scoreboard despite trailing Vegas, 22-21, in shots on goal.

Montréal actually held the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-12, and led in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (8-2) and hits (20-19) heading into the dressing room for the second intermission.

Vegas led in giveaways (17-13) and faceoff win% (56-44) after two periods.

As there were no penalties called in the final frame of regulation, as well as in the extra frame, the Habs finished the night 1/3 on the power play, while the Golden Knights went 0/2.

Pietrangelo wired a shot on net that rebounded in and out of Price’s glove before Martinez (4) did what he does best in the postseason– score clutch goals– this time off of Price and through the five-hole to tie the game, 2-2, at 1:08 of the third period.

Pietrangelo (8) and Karlsson (12) were credited with the helpers on Martinez’ goal as both teams continued to swap chances throughout the third period.

Vegas couldn’t get anything going with their surge in momentum as Smith continued to be a prominent figure on the ice among their top-six forwards as Phillip Danault and his Canadiens teammates continued to shutdown Golden Knights captain, Mark Stone, in every way imaginable.

Stone expressed remorse to reporters after the game for failing to record a single point in the series and had 5-3–8 totals in 19 games this postseason for Vegas– down from 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 20 games last postseason for the Golden Knights.

The horn sounded to indicate the end of the third period and the necessity for overtime as the two teams remained tied, 2-2, after 60 minutes.

Vegas led in shots on goal, 37-31, and held a, 15-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Golden Knights continued to lead in giveaways (25-19), hits (31-28) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Canadiens led in blocked shots (13-12) and takeaways (11-5).

For the third time in the series, Vegas and Montréal were heading to overtime.

Though the Golden Knights got two quick shots on the board to start the extra frame, it didn’t take long before the Canadiens emerged victorious as they won a battle in their own end before sprinting down the ice, whereby Danault released a pass to Lehkonen (3) for the one-timer goal on Lehner’s short side that eliminated Vegas and sent Montréal to the Stanley Cup Final.

Danault (3) and Brendan Gallagher (3)– two of the Habs’ longest tenured players not named Price– had the assists on Lehkonen’s game-winner at 1:39 of the overtime period as the Canadiens took home a, 3-2, victory.

Vegas exited Bell Centre leading in the final shots on goal total, 39-32, including a, 2-1, advantage in overtime alone, as well as the lead in giveaways (25-21), hits (31-29) and faceoff win% (53-47).

Meanwhile, Montréal delighted their home crowd with the win, pictures with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and the final advantage in blocked shots (14-13) on the night.

Speaking of the trophy that’s normally been presented to the winner of the Western Conference Final (or its Campbell Conference Finals equivalent from 1982-93), with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl now belonging to the Canadiens for the 2021 postseason, Montréal has won every trophy in league history.

As a result of the Game 6 win in overtime, the Habs improved to 5-1 past regulation this postseason, while the Golden Knights finished 2-4.

The Canadiens are 1-2 in all time Stanley Cup Playoff series’ against Tampa and 3-1 in all time postseason series’ against New York.

Montréal will face the winner of the Islanders vs. Lightning series on Monday night (June 28th) on the road in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

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Habs victorious on the road in Game 5, can advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday

The Montréal Canadiens matched a franchise record set in 1989, for the most road wins in a postseason with their seventh victory on an opponent’s ice in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs as they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-1, in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday.

Carey Price (11-5, 2.02 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in 16 games played) made 26 saves on 27 shots against as the Habs took a 3-2 series lead in the win.

Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury (9-7, 2.04 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 16 games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced in the loss for the Golden Knights.

The Canadiens can reach the Stanley Cup Final with a win in front of their own fans on Thursday and join a short list of teams to have won both the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl in franchise history, as only the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders have done so in National Hockey League history.

With no conferences this season due to the ongoing global pandemic restricting travel, the NHL decided to hold a Stanley Cup Semifinals round with the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Islanders series taking home the Prince of Wales Trophy, while the winner of Vegas and Montréal’s best-of-seven games series would take home the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

The former is usually reserved for the Eastern Conference champion, while the latter is usually presented to the Western Conference champion since a Conference Finals round became a thing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1982.

Jake Evans remained out of the lineup for the Habs, while Chandler Stephenson returned to his usual spot on the first line for Vegas after missing the last three games due to an undisclosed injury.

Golden Knights General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, remains isolated in Montréal after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of Game 4 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, likely won’t return to the series after testing positive prior to Game 3 unless the NHL’s protocols change between now and the conclusion of his scheduled isolation.

Despite his recent offensive contributions– including the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 3– Paul Byron opened the action with a cross checking infraction at 2:05 of the first period, yielding the game’s first power play to Vegas.

The Golden Knights, however, couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Josh Anderson fired a shot on Fleury that rebounded as Jesperi Kotkaniemi (5) crashed the net before he floated the puck into the top-right corner of the net with his backhand as the Vegas goaltender swung his paddle behind his back in desperation.

Anderson (1) and Byron (3) had the assists on Kotkaniemi’s goal on the rebound as the Canadiens pulled ahead, 1-0, at 8:45 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Montréal led, 1-0, on the scoreboard despite both teams managing to record six shots on goal each.

The Golden Knights held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (5-4), giveaways (7-1) and faceoff win percentage (73-27), while the Habs led in hits (16-10) after one period.

Vegas had the only power play in the first period and went 0/1, while Montréal was still awaiting their first skater advantage of the night heading into the middle frame.

Alex Pietrangelo caught Kotkaniemi with a high stick, but an official review determined that it was an unintentional result of a follow through– thereby negating any infraction early in the middle period.

Minutes later, Eric Staal (2) emerged fresh off the bench on a line change for a catch and release snipe over Fleury’s glove after Nick Suzuki broke up Jonathan Marchessault’s play at the other end and generated a breakout for the Habs before connecting with Staal.

Suzuki (7) and Tyler Toffoli (8) tallied the assists on Staal’s goal as Montréal extended their lead to, 2-0, at 6:32 of the second period.

The Canadiens got their first power play of the night after Nicolas Roy caught Artturi Lehkonen with a high stick at 8:33.

The Habs made relatively quick work on the resulting skater advantage as Suzuki forced a turnover, which led to Corey Perry and Cole Caufield entering the attacking zone with an almost 2-on-1 advantage.

Perry made a no-look pass to Caufield (3) for the one-time goal as Fleury stood no chance with the burst of speed approaching and shortened reaction time.

Caufield’s power-play goal made it, 3-0, for the Canadiens as Perry (6) and Suzuki (8) notched the assists at 9:49 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, the Habs were back on the power play as Lehkonen drew another penalty as Shea Theodore cross checked the Canadiens skater at 10:42.

Montréal did not convert on the resulting power play, however.

Late in the period, Shea Weber hooked Stephenson at 17:10, but the Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Canadiens led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 17-15, in shots on goal, including an, 11-9, advantage in shots in the second period alone.

Montréal also held the advantage in hits (35-20), while Vegas led in takeaways (9-7), giveaways (10-2) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Both teams managed to have eight blocked shots each.

There were no penalties called in the final frame, as the Habs went 1/2 on the power play and the Golden Knights went 0/2 on the skater advantage on the night.

Roy won an attacking zone faceoff early in the final period as Max Pacioretty (5) fanned on his initial shot attempt before gathering his composure and sending the puck over Price’s blocker side.

Pacioretty’s goal put Vegas on the scoreboard, though they trailed, 3-1, at 4:09 of the third period, nonetheless.

Roy (5) had the only assist on Pacioretty’s first goal of the series.

With 2:53 remaining in the game, Fleury skated to the bench for an extra attacker as Peter DeBoer pulled his goaltender to rally the Golden Knights for a pair of goals, ideally.

Instead, while trying to keep the puck in the attacking zone, Vegas botched a play along the blue line whereby Toffoli was able to gather the loose puck and send it off the glass through the neutral zone.

As the puck made its way out of Montréal’s defensive zone, Suzuki (5) gathered the de facto indirect lead pass and raced to the vacant goal frame for an empty net goal to make it, 4-1, for the Canadiens.

Toffoli (9) had the only assist on Suzuki’s added insurance marker at 18:54 of the third period.

At the final horn, Montréal had won, 4-1, and taken a 3-2 series lead with the chance to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993.

Coincidentally, 1993, is also the last time the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, defeating Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings in five games in the process.

The Golden Knights finished the night leading in shots on goal, 27-26, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The Canadiens finished Game 5 with the advantage in blocked shots (18-8) and hits (44-35), while Vegas exited their own building on Tuesday leading in giveaways (14-4) and faceoff win% (58-42).

With a win in Game 6 on Thursday night in front of their own fans at Bell Centre, Montréal can become the first Canadian team to appear in the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Canucks represented Canada in 2011, before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games (4-3).

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. ET on Thursday and viewers in the United States can tune to USA Network, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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Golden Knights steal Game 4 on the road in OT, even series 2-2

“Experts” said gambling would never pay off, yet Peter DeBoer gave Robin Lehner his second start of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 4 at Bell Centre on Sunday night and the Vegas Golden Knights went on to win, 2-1, in overtime– tying their series with the Montréal Canadiens 2-2 in the process.

Nicolas Roy joined exclusive company as one of ten players born in Québec to score a game-winning overtime goal in the postseason against the Habs.

Roy became the first player to do so since Martin St. Louis gave the New York Rangers a Game 4 overtime victory against the Canadiens on home ice in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final.

Meanwhile, Lehner (1-1, 3.97 goals-against average, .877 save percentage in two games played) made 27 saves on 28 shots against in the win for Vegas.

Montréal goaltender, Carey Price (10-5, 2.09 goals-against average, .931 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 19 out of 21 shots faced in the loss.

The Canadiens were still without Jake Evans, while Lehner earned the start in net for the Golden Knights over Marc-Andre Fleury and Chandler Stephenson remained out.

Luke Richardson was once again in command behind the bench for Montréal while Dominique Ducharme remains in self-isolation since testing positive for COVID-19.

Ducharme is not the only member of this series missing time now as Vegas General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, was spotted without a mask on Friday night during Game 3 and tested positive on Sunday ahead of Game 4.

McCrimmon will now be isolated a la Ducharme for the next couple of weeks at most.

There were no goals and no penalties in the opening frame as the two teams swapped a few chances here and there.

Heading into the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, while the Canadiens led in shots on goal, 11-4. Montréal also held an advantage in takeaways (2-1) and hits (17-10), while Vegas led in blocked shots (5-4) and giveaways (8-5).

The two teams split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, and each club had yet to see time on the skater advantage after one period.

Late in the middle frame Tomas Nosek and Shea Weber exchanged pleasantries and became entangled, yielding unsportsmanlike conduct minors at 14:45 of the second period.

Just as the two teams were set to resume 5-on-5 action after almost a pair of minutes at 4-on-4, Nick Suzuki hooked Alec Martinez and presented Vegas with a couple seconds of a 4-on-3 advantage at 16:44.

The Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the resulting abbreviated 5-on-4 power play as the Habs killed off their 26th consecutive infraction this postseason.

Shortly after Vegas’ power play expired, Montréal capitalized on the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Suzuki sent Paul Byron (2) into the attacking zone on a breakaway before No. 41 in bleu, blanc et rouge elevated the puck over Lehner to give the Canadiens a, 1-0, lead at 18:55 of the second period.

Suzuki (6) had the only assist on Byron’s tally after the Golden Knights nearly scored at the other end of the rink after Alex Pietrangelo rang the iron and Mark Stone fanned on a rebound.

As the two teams were getting ready for the second intermission, Martinez interfered with Josh Anderson and cut a rut to the penalty box at 19:38, resulting in a split power play for Montréal between the tail end of the second period and the opening minute of the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Canadiens led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, as well as, 20-12, in shots on goal– including a, 9-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Montréal led in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-2) and hits (30-18) after two periods, while Vegas led in giveaways (11-10) and faceoff win% (57-43).

As there were no penalties called in the remainder of the game, both teams finished 0/1 on the power play on Sunday night.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Brayden McNabb (1) received a pass from William Karlsson and beat Price with a one-timer between Price’s body and glove on the short side to tie the game, 1-1, at 10:37 of the third period.

Karlsson (10) and Shea Theodore (8) had the only assists on McNabb’s goal as the two teams continued to trade chances with the Golden Knights surging in momentum.

After 60 minutes, Vegas and Montréal were tied, 1-1, despite the Canadiens leading in shots on goal, 28-18, including an, 8-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Golden Knights led in hits (40-24) and faceoff win% (57-43), while the Habs dominated in blockes shots (19-16), takeaways (6-4), giveaways (18-15) and hits (40-24).

It didn’t take long in overtime for Roy (4) to end the game with a Vegas victory after Max Pacioretty wrapped around the net, spun, then flung a shot on goal that rebounded to Roy, who had a couple of chances before roofing the puck top-shelf while Price flailed in the crease while loosing his stick.

Pacioretty (6) and Alex Tuch (5) had the assists on Roy’s game-winning goal at 1:18 of the overtime period as the Golden Knights stole a, 2-1, win on the road in Game 4 and tied the series 2-2.

Montréal finished the night leading in shots on goal, 28-21, despite trailing Vegas, 3-0, in shots in the extra frame alone.

The Habs finished the night leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (19-15) and hits (40-24), while the Golden Knights exited the building with the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44).

The Canadiens fell to 4-1 in overtime this postseason, while Vegas improved to 2-3 past regulation in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With the series even at two games apiece heading into Game 5 back in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday night, Vegas and Montréal’s best-of-seven series is virtually a de facto best-of-three games.

Puck drop is set for a little after 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday as the Golden Knights host the Canadiens and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action, while those in Canada can choose between SN or TVAS.

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Habs steal Game 3 victory due to Fleury’s error

Josh Anderson scored a pair of goals to tie, then win Game 3 in overtime, 3-2, for the Montréal Canadiens over the Vegas Golden Knights in front of 3,500 fans at Bell Centre in Montréal, Québec on Friday night as the Habs took a 2-1 series lead.

Carey Price (10-4, 2.10 goals-against average, .932 save percentage in 14 games played) made 43 saves on 45 shots against in the win for the Canadiens.

Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury (9-6, 1.97 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 24 out of 27 shots faced in the loss for the Golden Knights.

Tomas Nosek took part in the pregame warmup and returned to Vegas’ lineup for the first time since Game 2 against the Minnesota Wild in the First Round, while Chandler Stephenson remained out of the lineup.

Meanwhile, Montréal was without their head coach, Dominique Ducharme, after he tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to self-isolate, where he may remain for up to 10 days.

Luke Richardson served as the head coach for the Habs, while Alex Burrows and Sean Burke retained their role as assistants on Friday night.

Neither team found their way onto the scoreboard in the opening frame as both clubs traded power play opportunities.

First, Jesperi Kotkaniemi hooked Alec Martinez and presented the Golden Knights with the first skater advantage at 6:52 of the first period, but Vegas couldn’t convert on the resulting power play.

The Canadiens struggled on their first power play of the night when Keegan Kolesar cut a rut to the box for interference at 9:26 of the first period.

Late in the opening frame, Joel Armia boarded Brayden McNabb and was assessed an infraction at 17:54, but the Golden Knights couldn’t muster anything on the advantage.

Heading into the first intermission, Vegas and Montréal were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite the Golden Knights holding a, 17-3, advantage in shots on goal in the first period alone.

The Habs led in blocked shots (6-2), giveaways (6-0), hits (15-14) and faceoff win percentage (58-42), while both teams managed to have one takeaway each after one period of action.

Vegas was 0/2 and Montréal was 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Shea Weber interfered with McNabb 24 seconds into the second period, but the Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

They would, however, capitalize within the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Nicolas Roy (3) beat Price over the glove from point blank on a turnover by Eric Staal after Staal gave the puck right to Roy from the trapezoid.

Roy’s unassisted effort made it, 1-0, Vegas at 3:16 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, however, the Canadiens answered back in a hurry as Cole Caufield (2) struck on a breakaway– beating Fleury on the glove side after Nick Suzuki set up Caufield for the goal.

Suzuki (5) had the only assist as Montréal tied it, 1-1, at 3:54.

Midway through the second period, Kotkaniemi hooked Max Pacioretty and presented the Golden Knights with another power play at 14:31, but Vegas couldn’t convert on the resulting advantage.

Neither could the Habs when Nosek tripped Jeff Petry at 19:42.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Golden Knights and Canadiens were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite Vegas holding a, 30-8, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 13-5, advantage in the second period alone.

Montréal continued to dominated in blocked shots (15-9), giveaways (17-3) and hits (33-29), while Vegas led in takeaways (3-2) and faceoff win% (56-44).

As there were no more penalties called for the rest of the night, the Golden Knights went 0/4 on the power play, while the Canadiens went 0/2 on the skater advantage on Friday.

Alex Pietrangelo (4) put Vegas ahead of the Habs, 2-1, with a shot under Price’s blocker side at 2:22 of the third period as Pacioretty (5) and Nosek (1) tabbed the assists.

Once more, however, the Golden Knights couldn’t extend their lead, nor could they hold onto the lead as Fleury mishandled a puck and blipped it to Anderson (2) for an unassisted goal to tie the game, 2-2, at 18:05 of the final frame.

Fleury’s costly error sent the game to overtime as the teams were tied, 2-2, after regulation, despite Vegas leading in shots on goal, 40-21.

Montréal actually held the advantage in shots on net in the third period alone, 13-10, while the Habs also dominated in blocked shots (17-16), giveaways (24-8) and hits (45-31).

The Golden Knights led in faceoff win% (51-49), while both teams managed to have four takeaways each.

Though Vegas dominated possession for most of the night, Montréal hit another gear in the overtime period as they led rush after rush into the attacking zone in the extra frame.

Eventually, Kotkaniemi sent an aerial pass to Anderson, who gathered the puck out of the air with his stick and flipped it along to Paul Byron for a give-and-go before Anderson (3) wrapped the rubber biscuit around Fleury while the Golden Knights goaltender dove in desperation.

Montréal had won, 3-2, in overtime thanks to Anderson’s second goal of the night, while Byron (2) and Kotkaniemi (2) tallied the assists on the game-winning goal at 12:53 of the extra frame.

With the win in Game 3, the Canadiens took a 2-1 series lead in front of their fans, while Vegas finished the night leading in shots on goal, 45-27.

The Habs wrapped up Friday night’s action leading in giveaways (25-15) and hits (52-36), while the Golden Knights led in blocked shots (21-20) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Vegas fell to 1-3 in overtime this postseason, while Montréal improved to 4-0 past regulation in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game 4 is back at Bell Centre in Montréal on Sunday night with a chance for the Canadiens to take a commanding 3-1 series lead or for the Golden Knights to even things up 2-2 heading back out west for Game 5.

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. ET on Sunday and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS for game coverage.

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Canadiens tie series 1-1 in, 3-2, win on the road

Paul Byron scored the game-winning goal late in the second period before Alex Pietrangelo tried his best to will the home team back into the fray with a pair of goals of his own as the Montréal Canadiens stole Game 2 from the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, on the road at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday.

Carey Price (9-4, 2.14 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in 13 games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots against in the win for the Canadiens as Montréal evened the series 1-1.

Golden Knights goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury (9-5, 1.93 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 14 games played), stopped 20 out of 23 shots faced in the loss.

Jeff Petry and Jon Merrill returned to action for the Habs on their blue line, while Jake Evans remained out of the lineup due to injury.

Vegas forward, Nicolas Roy, was promoted to center Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, while Chandler Stephenson was out due to injury.

Joel Armia (5) pounced on a loose puck and buried it on the short side early in the opening frame while Fleury dove across the crease and came up a little bit short.

Joel Edmundson (4) and Corey Perry (5) tallied the assists on Armia’s goal as the Canadiens jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 6:12 of the first period.

A few minutes later, Petry cut a rut to the penalty box after he tripped up Reilly Smith– presenting the Golden Knights with a power play at 9:51 of the first period in the process.

Vegas did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Late in the opening frame, Montréal won an attacking zone faceoff back to the point where Petry worked the puck up to winger, Cole Caufield, as Caufield found Tyler Toffoli (5) for an off-speed one-timer goal.

Caufield (5) and Petry (4) had the assists as the Habs extended their lead to two-goals at 16:30.

Entering the first intermission the Canadiens led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 12-4, in shots on goal.

Montréal also held the advantage in hits (24-13) and faceoff win percentage (55-45), while Vegas led in takeaways (6-2) and giveaways (5-2).

Both teams managed to have eight blocked shots each, while only the Golden Knights had seen time on the skater advantage and were 0/1 after one period.

Armia was sent to the box with a holding infraction to kick things off with a Vegas power play at 5:55 of the second period.

The Golden Knights did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, Jesperi Kotkaniemi chipped the puck off the boards and through the neutral zone as Josh Anderson tied up Nick Holden at the blue line while the puck trickled past and Byron entered the attacking zone with a breakaway at hand.

Byron (2) scored the eventual game-winning goal as a result and gave Montréal a, 3-0, lead at 17:45 of the second period as Kotkaniemi (1) and Edmundson (5) were credited with the helpers.

A minute later, Pietrangelo (2) sent a wrist shot through heavy traffic past Price as the Canadiens goaltender never saw the puck off of a faceoff win in the attacking zone for the Golden Knights.

Keegan Kolesar (3) had the only assist on Pietrangelo’s first goal of the night as Vegas cut Montréal’s lead to, 3-1, at 18:46 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Habs led, 3-1, on the scorebaord and, 16-14, in shots on goal, despite trailing the Golden Knights, 10-4, in shots on goal in the second period alone.

The Canadiens held the advantage in blocked shots (15-14), hits (41-32) and faceoff win% (53-48), while Vegas led in takeaways (6-2) and giveaways (6-3).

As there were no penalties called in the final frame, the Golden Knights finished 0/2 on the power play for the night, while Montréal didn’t even see any time on the skater advantage on Wednesday.

Late in the final frame, Pietrangelo (3) sent the puck through Petry’s legs and under Price’s glove on another goal off an attacking zone faceoff win for the Golden Knights as Vegas cut Montréal’s lead to one-goal.

Jonathan Marchessault (3) and William Karlsson (9) notched the assists on Pietrangelo’s second goal of the night as the Golden Knights trailed, 3-2, at 14:46 of the third period.

Peter DeBoer pulled Fleury for an extra attacker with 1:35 remaining, but it was ultimately to no avail as the final horn sounded and the Canadiens stole Game 2 on the road by a score of, 3-2.

This, after Karlsson delivered a swift cross check that let to Edmundson smashing the boards awkwardly and taking his time to get back up and off the ice on his own after a stoppage with 50.3 seconds remaining.

There was no penalty called and– after Vegas used their timeout– time kept ticking down until the Habs had successfully tied the series 1-1.

The Canadiens won, 3-2, but finished the night trailing in shots on goal, 31-23, as Vegas led, 17-7, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Golden Knights also held the advantage in giveaways (10-5), while Montréal exited T-Mobile Arena with the lead in blocked shots (26-18), hits (53-45) and faceoff win% (58-42).

As a result of the victory, Price (9-4) earned his ninth win of the 2021 postseason– the most by a Canadiens goaltender in a postseason since Jaroslav Halak (9-9) had nine victories in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The series shifts to Bell Centre in Montréal, Québec on Friday night for Game 3.

Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can catch the action on USA Network, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS as the Canadiens and Golden Knights battle to take a 2-1 series lead.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Golden Knights rout Canadiens, 4-1, in Game 1 of Semifinals

For the second time in their four years of existence, the Vegas Golden Knights are three wins away from another Stanley Cup Final appearance after defeating the Montréal Canadiens, 4-1, in Game 1 of their Semifinals matchup Monday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Alec Martinez is no stranger to scoring game-winning goals in the postseason as the Golden Knights defender notched the eventual game-winning goal early in the second period to the pleasure of the home crowd as Marc-Andre Fleury (9-4, 1.84 goals-against average, .927 save percentage in 13 games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against in the win.

Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price (8-4, 2.15 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in 12 games played), stopped 26 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

On Jan. 18, 2020, less than two months before the ongoing global pandemic began, the Habs beat Vegas, 5-4, in a shootout victory at Bell Centre in Montréal, Québec across the United States-Canadian border.

That was the last time the two clubs met each other before kicking off their best-of-seven series on Monday night in the first U.S.-based team vs. Canadian-based team matchup of the league’s 2020-21 calendar.

Jeff Petry, Jake Evans and Jon Merrill were not available for Montréal in Game 1 as the trio of skaters remain out of the lineup due to injury.

Early in the opening frame, Jonathan Marchessault caught Alexander Romanov with a high stick and presented the game’s first power play to the Canadiens as a result at 2:38 of the first period.

Montréal was not successful on the ensuing skater advantage.

Almost midway through the first period, the Habs iced the puck and proceeded to lose a faceoff in their own zone, whereby Vegas worked the puck back to Brayden McNabb for the “D-to-D” pass along the point.

Shea Theodore (1) unloaded on a slap shot that beat Price on the blocker side while the Canadiens goaltender never saw the rubber biscuit speed past him as there was heavy net front traffic limiting his view from Montréal’s crease.

McNabb (3) and Chandler Stephenson (6) tallied the assists on Theodore’s first goal of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Golden Knights took a, 1-0, lead at 9:15 of the first period as a result.

Phillip Danault hooked Alex Tuch late in the period and presented Vegas with the night’s first power play at 18:20, but the Golden Knights weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Heading into the first intermission, Vegas led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Montréal in shots on goal, 12-8.

The Canadiens led in blocked shots (7-4) and faceoff win percentage (56-44), while the Golden Knights led in giveaways (6-1) and hits (23-21).

Both teams managed to have two takeaways each and were 0/1 on the power play after one period.

Seven seconds into the second period, Ben Chiarot cut a rut to the penalty box for sending an errant puck over the glass– yielding an automatic delay of game infraction and presenting Vegas with another power play.

Though the Golden Knights didn’t convert on the skater advantage, they were successful in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Theodore setup Martinez (3) with a pump fake pass for the one-timer goal from Martinez’s office at the dot while Price overcommitted on Theodore’s look– thereby scoring on the Habs netminder on what was rendered as a de facto empty net.

Theodore (7) and Reilly Smith (6) tallied the assists on the goal as Vegas pulled ahead, 2-0, at 2:18 of the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Joel Edmundson caught Marchessault with a slash at 5:04, but the Golden Knight’s resulting power play was short lived as Theodore tripped up Paul Byron at 5:20.

After a span of 1:45 at 4-on-4 action, the Canadiens wound up with an abbreviated power play, but couldn’t convert on the short skater advantage.

Moments later, Brett Kulak tripped up Stephenson at 8:20, but Vegas was not successful on the ensuing power play.

A few minutes after Kulak’s trip to the penalty box, Montréal went on the power play as William Carrier took his turn in the sin bin for roughing at 11:46.

The Habs worked quick on the ensuing skater advantage as Corey Perry passed the puck to Tyler Toffoli for a shot that generated a rebound right to Cole Caufield (1) as the young Canadiens forward pounced on the loose puck and buried it in the twine for his first career Stanley Cup Playoffs goal.

Toffoli (7) and Perry (4) had the assists on Caufield’s power-play goal as Montréal cut Vegas’ lead in half, 2-1, at 12:05 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, however, the Golden Knights responded on the scoreboard as Mattias Janmark (4) redirected a puck from the doorstep that had already deflected off of Canadien forward, Josh Anderson, to make it, 3-1, for Vegas at 12:58.

Tuch (4) and Zach Whitecloud (3) notched the assists on Janmark’s goal 53 seconds after the Habs ruined Fleury’s bid for a shutout.

The Golden Knights, meanwhile, continued to be successful at converting attacking zone faceoff wins into effective offensive markings on the scoreboard.

Through 40 minutes of play, Vegas led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and pulled ahead of Montréal in shots on goal, 21-17, thanks to a, 13-5, advantage in the second period alone.

The Habs, however, continued to dominated in blocked shots (12-8), takeaways (8-7), hits (39-30) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Golden Knights led in giveaways (9-4).

Montréal was 1/3 on the power play, while Vegas was 0/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame, where no penalties were called in the last 20 minutes of action.

Smith sent a pass to Nick Holden (2) through the high slot for a catch and release goal to give Vegas a three-goal lead, 4-1, at 10:06 of the third period.

Smith (7) and William Karlsson (8) tallied the assists as the Golden Knights defended their crease for the rest of the night and protected their lead even after Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, pulled Price for an extra attacker with about 4:35 remaining in regulation.

Price didn’t remain out of the net for long, however, as he was returned to the crease with about 35 seconds left on the clock, seeing as the Habs were still trailing by a few goals and with nothing left to lose except for pride, if Vegas had found a way to score one more goal on the evening.

At the final horn, the Golden Knights had won, 4-1, and taken a 1-0 series lead as a result.

Vegas finished Monday’s effort leading in shots on goal, 30-29, despite trailing Montréal, 12-9, in the third period alone.

The Golden Knights wound up with the final advantage in blocked shots (16-15) and giveaways (10-5), while the Canadiens exited the building leading in hits (52-44) and faceoff win% (56-44).

The Habs finished 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Vegas went 0/4 on the power play in Game 1.

The Golden Knights host the Canadiens for Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday night with a 1-0 series lead.

Puck drop is expected a little after 9 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS for coverage.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Pacioretty or Suzuki, hope you made the right choice in 2018

There are four teams remaining in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and for the first time since 1981, there are no Conference Finals going on.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the National Hockey League was forced to temporarily realign the divisions and get rid of conferences for a season as the league and it’s players’ union did what they could to get an abbreviated 56-game regular season schedule and a full Stanley Cup Playoffs experience in the history books.

In May, ESPN‘s Greg Wyshynski reported that the league would not award the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the victors of the equivalent third round, but after the Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Colorado Avalanche in six games to conclude the Second Round of this year’s postseason last Thursday, the league apparently changed its mind.

With a regular all-Eastern Conference matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, as well as 50% of the teams representing the Western Conference in the other Semifinal series, both trophies will be awarded to the third round series winners after all.

The winner of the Lightning and Islanders series will take home the Prince of Wales Trophy, while either the Golden Knights or the Montréal Canadiens will win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

Montréal can join a short list of teams to have won both trophies in franchise history, as only the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Islanders have won each before.

How is this possible, you ask?

Well, for starters, the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl was introduced in the 1967-68 season and awarded to the team that finished with the best regular season record in the West Division (the precursor to the Western Conference in the modern era), while the Prince of Wales Trophy dates back to the 1925-26 season and, you guessed it, eventually became the East Division (pre-Eastern Conference days) equivalent.

Ahead of the 1981-82 season, however, the league changed its postseason to include a Conference Finals round, thus involving these trophies in the playoffs and eventually leading to the creation of the Presidents’ Trophy for the team with the best regular season record since the 1985-86 season.

So anyway, the teams mentioned above that won both have changed conferences and divisions over time.

Now let’s talk about the other half of the Semifinal matchups– the Golden Knights and the Canadiens.

(1) Vegas Golden Knights (40-14-2, 82 points) vs (4) Montréal Canadiens (24-21-11, 59 points)

Vegas: 56 games played, .732 points percentage, 30 regulation wins.

Montréal: 56 games played, .527 points percentage, 20 regulation wins.

The Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Minnesota Wild in seven games (4-3) in the First Round before ousting the 2020-21 Presidents’ Trophy winning, Colorado Avalanche, in six games (4-2) in the Second Round to advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals as the representative club from the Honda NHL West Division.

Vegas is making their second appearance in the third round of the playoffs– their first since 2018– and is in search of the franchise’s first Stanley Cup ring in just their fourth season of existence.

Mark Stone (21-40–61 totals in 55 games) lead the Golden Knights in team scoring in the regular season and was named a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, while Max Pacioretty (24-27–51 totals in 48 games) and Jonathan Marchessault (18-26–44 totals in 55 games) rounded out the top-three in scoring on the roster.

Through 13 postseason games thus far, William Karlsson leads the Golden Knights in playoff scoring with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in that span.

Marchessault, Stone, Pacioretty and Alex Pietrangelo are tied for the second-most points in the playoffs for Vegas so far with eight points each in 13 games (except for Pacioretty, who has eight points in seven games).

Alex Tuch, Mattias Janmark and Reilly Smith are tied for the sixth-most points on the roster in postseason scoring with seven points each.

In the crease, Marc-Andre Fleury led the way with a 26-10-0 record in 36 games played (36 starts) in the regular season, as well as a 1.98 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage and six shutouts in that span.

Meanwhile, Robin Lehner amassed a 13-4-2 record in 19 games (19 starts) to go with a 2.29 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and one shutout.

Oscar Dansk even made an appearance with a 1-0-0 record in one game (one start), as well as a 3.93 goals-against average and an .862 save percentage, while Logan Thompson made a relief appearance in one game, earned no decision and had a 1.000 save percentage as a result.

Fleury’s gone on to have an 8-4 record in 12 games (12 stars) this postseason, as well as a 1.91 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and one shutout entering the Semifinals.

Meanwhile, Lehner made one appearance (one start) thus far in the playoffs and went 0-1 with a 7.03 goals-against average and an .811 save percentage.

At the other end of the rink, the Montréal Canadiens were the winners of the Scotia NHL North Division, having overcome a 3-1 series deficit in seven games (4-3) against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round prior to sweeping the Winnipeg Jets (4-0) in the Second Round to advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals.

Poised as Canada’s team, the Habs have not won the Cup since 1993, and were last in the third round in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final– losing to the New York Rangers in six games (4-2) in the process.

The Canadiens haven’t even been back to the Stanley Cup Final since 1993, when they defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in five games (4-1).

Tyler Toffoli (28-16–44 totals in 52 games) led the way for Montréal in team scoring this season in a prolific display of offensive prowess over a shorter than normal regular season schedule.

Jeff Petry chipped in 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) from the defense in 55 games and Nick Suzuki (15-26–41 totals in 56 games) rounded out the top-three in Canadiens scoring in 2020-21.

Thus far in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toffoli’s continued to lead his teammates with 4-6–10 totals in 11 games, while Suzuki has eight points (four goals, four assists) in that span.

Joel Armia and Eric Staal are each tied for the third-most points on the Habs’ postseason roster, notching seven points through 11 games for Armia and 10 games for Staal.

In the crease, Jake Allen actually played in more games than Carey Price as Price dealt with injuries throughout the season.

Allen amassed an 11-12-5 record in 29 games (27 starts) and had a 2.68 goals-against average, as well as a .907 save percentage in the process, while Price managed to put up a 12-7-5 record in 25 games (25 starts) and had a 2.64 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and one shutout in that span.

Cayden Primeau also had some action in the crease for Montréal this season, recording a 1-2-1 record in four games (four starts), as well as a 4.16 goals-against average and an .849 save percentage.

Thus far in the playoffs, it’s been all Price for Montréal as the Canadiens longtime starter has an 8-3 record in 11 games (11 starts), a 1.97 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage and one shutout in that span.


These two teams– the oldest in the league that predates the NHL (Montréal) and the new kids on the block (Vegas) at least until the Seattle Kraken pick players for their team next month in the 2021 Expansion Draft– are meeting for the first time in a playoff series in what is sure to be more than just an incredible experience.

They also didn’t get to play each other in the regular season because of the league’s temporary realignment, let alone the fact that the United States and Canadian border was closed.

It’ll be the first international matchup in the league this season with the Canadian government providing an exemption for games at Bell Centre.

Now, for starters, there’s the obvious “this would never happen regularly at least until the Stanley Cup Final” factor, but there’s also a shared history that has these clubs intertwined– the Max Pacioretty trade.

On Sept. 10, 2018, the Golden Knights made a splash by trading their second-highest drafted player in franchise history– Nick Suzuki at 13th overall in 2017– along with Tomas Tatar and a 2019 2nd round pick originally belonging to the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Canadiens for Pacioretty.

Vegas may have stumbled into “win now” mode to the average eye, but Golden Knights owner, Bill Foley, has long intended to replicate– if not beat– the Philadelphia Flyers’ emergence on the Stanley Cup scene.

Foley cried out for his team’s first Cup ring within three years of existence and something had to be done to spruce up their top-six forward group.

Enter Pacioretty, the longtime Canadien and former captain in Montréal in a bit of a disagreement regarding whether or not he and Habs General Manager, Marc Bergevin, could ever reach terms of a deal on an extension.

So Bergevin got bold.

He dealt Montréal’s most recognizable skater (not goaltender named “Price”, mind you) to Vegas for a high-caliber prospect, Tatar and a second round pick that he later flipped.

At the time, the Golden Knights claimed victory in the trade– acquiring the biggest star in the here and now, though they’re still searching for that elusive first Cup– while Canadiens fans lamented the loss of their prolific scorer in Pacioretty, but remained hopeful for the future with Suzuki coming into the fold as the team had just drafted Jesperi Kotkaniemi 3rd overall in the 2018 Draft in June.

Three years later, the Habs are a Cinderella team, while Vegas is right where they expected to be– except neither expected to play each other before the Stanley Cup Final, which only amplifies the magnitude of the Pacioretty trade even more.

Oh, then there’s the battle of Fleury and Price in net too, which by now, is worth pointing out that we haven’t even gotten into how each team could win the series.

For the Golden Knights, it’s their potent offense that’s generated throughout the lineup.

Vegas head coach, Peter DeBoer, rolls four lines and three defensive pairings and any and all players on the ice can find a way to wire a puck into the twine one way or another.

For the Canadiens, it all comes down to Price as the team’s offense has mostly relied upon a top-heavy approach.

That’s not to say that Corey Perry or Staal can’t be a determining factor in the clutch, but rather that in a standard “which team has the better offense, better defense and/or better goaltending” checklist, well, Vegas has scored 40 goals this postseason to Montréal’s 28 goals for.

Price should help the Canadiens steal a game or two in the series, but unless their miracle run finds a way to continue, the Golden Knights should wrap things up in six games.

Schedule:

6/14- Game 1 MTL @ VGK 9 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/16- Game 2 MTL @ VGK 9 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/18- Game 3 VGK @ MTL 8 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/20- Game 4 VGK @ MTL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/22- Game 5 MTL @ VGK 9 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, TVAS*

6/24- Game 6 VGK @ MTL 8 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/26- Game 7 MTL @ VGK 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

*If necessary

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Vegas to face Montréal in the Stanley Cup Semifinal

For the first time since 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights are heading back to the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they defeated the Colorado Avalanche, 6-3, on Thursday night as Vegas clinched the series 4-2 on home ice at T-Mobile Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury (8-4, 1.91 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 12 games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against in the win as the Golden Knights advanced to the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal.

Vegas will face the Montréal Canadiens in their first ever postseason series as the two teams will battle for one spot in this year’s Stanley Cup Final, while the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Islanders in the other Semifinal matchup.

The National Hockey League announced after Game 6 in Vegas, that the winner of the Golden Knights versus Canadiens series will be presented the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl– traditionally awarded to the victor of the Western Conference Final in a non-pandemic timeline.

Meanwhile, the winner of the Lightning and Islanders series will be presented with the Prince Of Wales Trophy as is usually awarded to the victor of the Eastern Conference Final when the league isn’t forced into a temporary realignment without conferences due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden Knights are the first team in league history to win seven playoffs series’ in their first four years of existence.

At the other end of the rink, Philipp Grubauer (6-4, 2.61 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 10 games played), stopped 17 out of 22 shots faced in the loss.

Avalanche forward, Nazem Kadri, served the last game of his eight-game suspension on Thursday, while head coach, Jared Bednar, almost wasn’t available to do his duty behind the bench as a COVID test irregularity prevented him from attending morning skate.

Bednar was later cleared hours before the game on another test.

Colorado jumped out ahead of Vegas less than a minute into the opening frame– emulating the Golden Knights’ patented style at home in the postseason– as Devon Toews (1) scored the game’s first goal on a catch and release shot over Fleury’s glove.

Nathan MacKinnon (6) and Brandon Saad (1) had the assists on Toews’ goal as the Avs pulled ahead, 1-0, 23 seconds into the first period.

Colorado’s lead didn’t last long, however, as it turns out Vegas can still score within the opening minutes of a playoff game on home ice even if they allow the game’s first goal.

Nick Holden (1) received a pass from Reilly Smith and floated a shot through Grubauer’s five-hole while the Avalanche goaltender was still looking to the right corner– completely unaware of the puck’s location on the ice.

Smith (5) and Nicolas Roy (4) tallied the assists on Holden’s goal as the Golden Knights tied the game, 1-1, at 1:15 of the first period.

Both teams managed to score on their first shot on goal in Game 6.

Moments later, Vegas almost took advantage of a complete swing in momentum as Alec Martinez rang the post with a shot, but he’d play a factor later in the period regardless.

Martinez sent a pass through the slot to William Karlsson (4) for a one-timer goal that beat Grubauer low on the short side between his pad and the post to make it, 2-1, Vegas at 15:06.

Heading into the first intermission, the Golden Knights led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and trailed the Avalanche in shots on goal, 12-10.

Vegas held the advantage in everything else, however, as they dominated in blocked shots (15-5), takeaways (12-1), giveaways (5-0), hits (23-15) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Neither team had seen any action on the power play after one period.

Alex Pietrangelo kicked things off in the middle frame with an errant puck over the glass and an automatic delay of game penalty as a result at 2:23 of the second period.

Colorado took full advantage of the ensuing power play as Mikko Rantanen (5) sent a shot off of Zach Whitecloud’s skate and into the twine after the rubber biscuit clipped Fleury’s blocker on its way by.

MacKinnon (7) and Gabriel Landeskog (9) had the assists on Rantanen’s power-play goal as the Avalanche tied things up, 2-2, at 3:47 of the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Shea Theodore worked the puck to Pietrangelo for the shot and subsequent redirection by Keegan Kolesar (1) as the Golden Knights forward pocketed his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and gave his team a, 3-2, lead at 14:27.

Pietrangelo (7) and Theodore (5) notched the assists on the marker, but Vegas wasn’t able to pull away just yet as Colorado kept things close.

Andre Burakovsky (1) scored his first of the 2021 postseason off the post and in while Martinez inadvertently screened his own goaltender.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (3) and Cale Makar (8) had the assists on Burakovsky’s goal as the Avs tied the game, 3-3, at 16:52.

Yet, just as quick as things can be evened up, things can fall apart as the Golden Knights’ forecheck forced a turnover in Colorado’s defensive zone as the Avalanche couldn’t make an exit.

Vegas worked the puck deep with an intentional shot wide of the net that caromed off the boards to the side of the slot where Pietrangelo (1) pounced on the loose puck for the eventual game-winning goal.

Alex Tuch (3) and Max Pacioretty (4) added the helpers as the Golden Knights took a, 4-3, lead at 19:42 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, Vegas led, 4-3, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Colorado, 22-16, in shots on goal, including a, 10-6, advantage for the Avs in the second period alone.

The Golden Knights continued to lead in blocked shots (24-7), takeaways (16-1), giveaways (12-1) and hits (37-31), however, as both teams managed to split faceoff win%, 50-50, through two periods.

The Avalanche were 1/1 on the power play, while Vegas had yet to see time on the skater advantage entering the final frame.

Vegas executed a play unlike any other with tremendous hand-eye coordination as Brayden McNabb let go of a shot that was redirected by Theodore, then by William Carrier (1) on the doorstep on a zig-zag play that extended the Golden Knights’ lead to two-goals.

Theodore (6) and McNabb (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively, as Carrier’s goal made it, 5-3, for Vegas at 11:46 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, the Golden Knights went on the power play for the first time Thursday night as Ryan Graves cut a rut to the sin bin for tripping Karlsson at 12:33.

Vegas was unsuccessful on the resulting skater advantage, however.

It was no big deal, though, as Colorado pulled Grubauer for an extra attacker with about 3:26 remaining in the game, thereby giving the Golden Knights ample opportunity to score at least one empty net goal.

And that’s just what they did.

Martinez botched a surefire empty net goal, so Pacioretty (4) cleaned things up by putting the icing on the cake with some extra insurance, 6-3, as a result of his unassisted empty net goal at 16:50 of the third period.

Bednar pulled his goaltender again for an extra skater, but Colorado couldn’t get another puck past Fleury.

At the final horn, Vegas had won, 6-3, and finished off the Avalanche 4-2 in the series– eliminating the Avs in six games in the process after Colorado rocketed out of the gate in the series with a, 7-1, win in Game 1 and a thrilling, 3-2, overtime victory in Game 2.

The Avalanche finished the night leading in shots on goal, 33-23, including an, 11-7, advantage in the third period alone and wrapped up Thursday’s effort leading in faceoff win% (53-47).

Meanwhile, the Golden Knights exited their own building leading in blocked shots (34-18), giveaways (15-1) and hits (46-42) in Game 6.

Colorado finished the game 1/1 on the power play, while Vegas went 0/1.

With the win, Fleury moved into sole possession of the fourth most postseason victories by a goaltender in league history with his 89th career Stanley Cup Playoff win.

Vegas will have home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Semifinal and the Stanley Cup Final, should they eliminate Montréal in the Semifinal, by virtue of having the best regular season record of the remaining four playoff teams.

Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena is set for Monday night at 9 p.m. ET.

Viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for coverage, while those in Canada can tune to CBC, SN or TVAS.

Meanwhile, the Islanders open up their series with the Lightning on the road in Game 1, Sunday afternoon at Amalie Arena with puck drop set for 3 p.m. ET.

Fans in the United States looking to catch Tampa and New York can tune to NBC, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

To summarize, that’s Sunday, June 13th for Game 1 between the Isles and Bolts and Monday, June 14th for Game 1 of the Habs and Golden Knights.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Vegas completes comeback with OT victory in Game 5

Hockey is a 60-minute game and generally requires a “full 60-minute effort” to win, you know, the game, but the Colorado Avalanche didn’t do that on Tuesday, didn’t they?

If you read that in one of Bill Hader’s impression voices, give yourself a pat on the back.

Anyway, the Vegas Golden Knights scored two quick goals in the third period to send Game 5 into overtime, which was ended 50 seconds into the extra frame as the Golden Knights completed their comeback thanks to a game-winning goal from their captain, Mark Stone, and defeated the Avalanche, 3-2, on the road at Ball Arena in Denver.

Vegas leads the series 3-2 and can eliminate the 2020-21 Presidents’ Trophy winners on home ice in Game 6 on Thursday.

Marc-Andre Fleury (7-4, 1.81 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 11 games played) made 28 saves on 30 shots against in the win for the Golden Knights.

Avs goaltender, Philipp Grubauer (6-3, 2.33 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in nine games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced in the loss.

Colorado’s head coach, Jared Bednar, made two changes to his lineup, replacing Carl Soderberg and Kiefer Sherwood with Alex Newhook and Logan O’Connor.

Meanwhile, Nazem Kadri remains suspended for one more game after Tuesday’s effort. The earliest Kadri can return is if the Avalanche force a Game 7.

Mikko Rantanen fanned on a chance to score with an open net early in the opening frame, then bumped into Fleury and was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference as a result at 6:07 of the first period.

Vegas went on the power play for the first and only time of the night, but couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, with just over a second remaining on the clock, Brandon Saad (7) entered the attacking zone and floated a shot over Fleury’s shoulder on the blocker side while the Golden Knights netminder botched a save by reaching across his chest with his glove hand and coming up empty as the puck hit the twine behind him.

Devon Toews (5) and Rantanen (8) tallied the assists on Saad’s goal as the Avalanche took a, 1-0, lead at 19:58 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Colorado led, 1-0, on the scoreboard thanks to Saad’s fourth goal of the series.

The Avs also held the advantage in shots on goal, 10-9, and led in takeaways (8-2), giveaways (6-1), hits (13-8) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).

Meanwhile, Vegas led in blocked shots (8-7) and was 0/1 on the power play as Colorado had yet to see any time on the advantage entering the middle frame.

There were no penalties in the second period as the two clubs swapped chances, ultimately leading to a one-timer goal from the bumper for Joonas Donskoi (3)– giving the Avalanche a, 2-0, lead at 16:28 of the second period as a result.

Newhook (1) and Patrik Nemeth (1) notched the assists on Donskoi’s goal as the Avs took a, 2-0, lead heading into the second intermission.

Colorado held the advantage in shots on goal, 21-14, and led in second period shots alone, 11-5, while also dominating in takeaways (13-8), giveaways (8-2), hits (30-20) and faceoff win% (53-47).

Vegas led in blocked shots (19-8), which would soon haunt the Avs.

The Golden Knights were still 0/1 on the power play and the Avalanche had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Just over a minute into the final frame, Alex Tuch (4) batted the puck out of mid-air while settling a saucer pass from Nicolas Roy past Grubauer to cut Colorado’s lead in half, 2-1.

Roy (3) and Mattias Janmark (4) had the assists on Tuch’s goal at 1:03 of the third period as Andre Burakovsky’s turnover in his own zone deflected off of Janmark’s stick and led to Tuch’s goal.

The Golden Knights pounced on the swing in momentum as the home crowd was momentarily stunned.

Gabriel Landeskog misfired on a pass intended for either J.T. Compher or Ryan Graves along the point, but the rubber biscuit bounced off of the Avalanche defender’s skate and led Vegas on a rush back the other direction, whereby William Karlsson setup Jonathan Marchessault (6) for the game-tying goal.

Karlsson (7) had the only assist as Marchessault made it, 2-2, at 4:07 of the third period.

Just like that, Colorado’s two-goal deficit was gone.

Two, quick, sloppy plays gone horribly wrong. Vegas was surging.

The Avalanche managed to survive the Golden Knights’ onslaught, but failed to score on their only power play when Shea Theodore sent an errant puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game infraction at 10:50.

At the end of regulation, Colorado and Vegas were deadlocked, 2-2, on the scoreboard, despite the Avalanche holding a, 28-24, advantage in total shots on goal.

The Golden Knights actually led in shots on goal in the third period alone, 10-7, while Vegas also held the advantage in blocked shots (24-12).

The Avs dominated in just about everything else, including takeaways (18-12), giveaways (11-5) and hits (40-31), as both teams went, 50-50, in faceoff win% entering the extra frame.

As there were no penalties called in overtime, both clubs finished 0/1 on the night on the power play.

Less than a minute into the extra period, as some fans were probably just getting back to their seats from the long line at the bathroom during the 15-minute intermission, Stone (5) notched his first career Stanley Cup Playoffs overtime game-winning goal– top shelf, right in the corner on Grubauer’s far glove side.

Max Pacioretty (3) and Alex Pietrangelo (6) had the assists on Stone’s goal 50 seconds into overtime as the pair of Golden Knights teammates worked a quick break after blocking a shot in their own end.

Vegas won Game 5, 3-2, and taken a 3-2 series lead as a result, despite finishing the night trialing in shots on goal, 30-25, including a, 2-1, advantage in overtime alone for the Avalanche.

The Golden Knights wrapped up Tuesday night’s effort leading in blocked shots (26-11), while the Avs led in giveaways (11-5) and hits (41-31).

The two teams finished the night, 50-50, in faceoff win%.

Vegas can eliminate Colorado on home ice at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday night in Game 6 of their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round series.

Puck drop is expected a little after 9 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for coverage, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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Vegas cruises to a, 5-1, victory over Colorado in Game 4, series tied 2-2

Whether it was the glove side or sheer puck luck, everything went the right way for the Vegas Golden Knights in their, 5-1, win against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena in Game 4 on Sunday night.

The home team has not lost a game in the series thus far as the clubs are tied 2-2 in the best-of-seven Second Round matchup, while Jonathan Marchessault recorded a hat trick in front of the home crowd.

Marc-Andre Fleury (6-4, 1.79 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in 10 games played) made 17 saves on 18 shots against in the win for Vegas.

Colorado netminder, Philipp Grubauer (6-2, 2.25 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in eight games played) stopped 30 out of 35 shots faced in the loss.

Nazem Kadri remained out of the lineup for Colorado with two games remaining in his suspension after Game 4, while Ryan Reaves returned to Vegas’ lineup after completing his two-game suspension.

Robin Lehner was also back for the Golden Knights as Fleury’s backup, relegating Logan Thompson back to the press box as a healthy scratch on Sunday night.

Brandon Saad (6) kicked things off with a goal from the doorstep on a rebound to make it, 1-0, for the Avalanche at 1:50 of the first period.

J.T. Compher (1) and Andre Burakovsky (3) tallied the assists as the Avs struck first, but would not strike again on the scoreboard on Sunday night.

Less than a minute later, Patrik Nemeth cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented Vegas with the first power play of the night at 2:43 of the opening frame.

The Golden Knights failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, however, Vegas started to swing momentum in their favor as they were clearly dominating possession and generating more shots on goal than Colorado.

One shot from Reilly Smith rang the crossbar behind Grubauer and bounced through the crease before William Karlsson let go of a followup shot that deflected off of Marchessault (3) and into the twine.

Karlsson (4) notched the only assist on Marchessault’s first goal of the evening as the Golden Knights tied the game, 1-1, at 7:07.

Late in the period, Marchessault was sent to the sin bin after he tripped up Joonas Donskoi at 18:02, but the first skater advantage for the Avs didn’t last long as Cale Makar interfered with Smith at 18:24 and cut Colorado’s power play short at 18:24.

Neither team managed to score in the ensuing 4-on-4 action as the first period drew to a close with the Golden Knights and Avalanche tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite Vegas outshooting Colorado, 15-9.

The Avalanche were 0/1 and the Golden Knights were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Shortly after both teams emerged from the first intermission, Max Pacioretty (3) received a pass on a rush and beat Grubauer clean from the faceoff circle over the far glove side to give the Golden Knights their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Mark Stone (3) and Zach Whitecloud (2) tallied the assists as Vegas went ahead at 1:11 of the second period and never looked back.

Midway through the middle frame, Burakovsky was penalized for holding as a scrum ensued, yielding matching minors for Alex Tuch and Compher– each for roughing– at 9:35.

Late in the resulting power play, Vegas worked the puck to Marchessault (4) for a one-timer from the faceoff dot to the right of the Colorado goaltender.

Once more, Grubauer was beaten on the far side– only this time Marchessault’s shot sailed under the glove of the Avs goalie.

Alex Pietrangelo (5) and Karlsson (5) had the assists on Marchessault’s power-play goal as the Golden Knights extended their lead to, 3-1, at 11:28.

Through 40 minutes of action at T-Mobile Arena, Vegas was dominating on the scoreboard, 3-1, and in shots on goal, 24-14, including a, 9-5, advantage in the second period alone.

The Golden Knights held the lead in takeaways (10-4) and giveaways (9-7), while the Avalanche led in blocked shots (15-7) and hits (37-31). Both teams managed to split faceoff win percentage, 50-50.

Colorado remained 0/1 on the power play, while Vegas went 1/3 on the skater advantage entering the second intermission.

Early in the final frame, Whitecloud sent an errant puck out of play, resulting in an automatic infraction and a power play for the Avalance at 1:54 of the third period.

The Avs did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Marchessault (5) completed his hat trick with a one-timer setup by Smith through the crease as No. 81 for Vegas wrapped around the net and beat Grubauer from point blank after the Colorado goaltender had lost his stick.

Smith (4) and Karlsson (6) recorded the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Marchessault’s third goal of the game– his first career postseason hat trick and the second hat trick in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Golden Knights franchise history at 6:02 of the third period.

Vegas had pulled ahead, 4-1, as a result.

Midway through the third, some controversy emerged as Patrick Brown (2) managed to poke a loose puck through Grubauer’s five-hole, but the initial call on the ice was that there was no goal due to incidental goaltender interference.

That was quickly overturned by an official review, which deemed that Brown had not done enough to merit an infraction and, thus, Vegas led, 5-1, with Reaves (1) and William Carrier (2) earning the assists at 13:13 of the third.

But that wasn’t enough to convince Avs head coach, Jared Bednar, as the Colorado bench boss used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that he believed that Brown had, in fact, interfered with Grubauer’s momentum while making the initial save.

Turns out, the refs didn’t agree as the call that was originally “no goal”, then overturned to a “good goal” remained a “good goal” as the new call was upheld.

Grubauer was already skating backwards and had too much momentum to keep the puck, if not himself alone, in front of the goal line.

Confused? Don’t be.

Vegas made it, 5-1, was the end result.

Colorado was assessed a bench minor for delay of game– having lost the coach’s challenge at 13:13 of the third period, but the Golden Knights didn’t score on the resulting power play, while Kiefer Sherwood served the penalty in the box for the Avalanche.

At the final horn, the Golden Knights had won, 5-1, and tied the series at 2-2 as a result.

Vegas finished Game 4 leading in shots on goal, 35-18, including an, 11-4, advantage in the third period alone, while also leading in giveaways (11-9).

Colorado wrapped up Sunday’s effort leading in hits (48-44) and faceoff win% (52-48), while both teams managed to amass 18 blocked shots each.

The Avs finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while the Golden Knights went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

Vegas outshot Colorado at home in Games 3 and 4 by a combined shot total of 78-38.

Or for another fun stat…

The Avalanche managed to last in Game 2 because of their first line. The Avs were stifled in Games 3 and 4 because of a lack of depth scoring and because the Golden Knights kept Colorado’s first line quiet– completely off the scoresheet– in the latter game.

The series is tied 2-2 heading back to Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Puck drop is expected a little after 9 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action, while those in Canada can catch the game coverage on CBC, SN or TVAS.