The Vegas Golden Knights vs Montreal Canadiens Semifinals has been madness so far. Currently the Montreal Canadiens lead this series 2-1. Which may come to a shock as many experts on ESPN.com predicted the Golden Knights to win this series.
The consensus was Golden Knights (13/15), but the most popular answer was Knights in 6, which is still a possible option depending how they play moving forward. But first let’s review the first three games.
Game 1: Knights 4 vs Canadiens 1
The Golden Knights finally won a game 1 during their Stanley Cup playoff run! Not only was this a victory in itself but it also snapped the Canadiens 7 game winning streak. The momentum was in their hands as each of their 4 goals were scored by different players. These players were Theodore in the 1st, Martinez in the 2nd, Janmark in the 2nd and Holden in the 3rd. The Golden Knights ended their night with 30 shots on goal. The Canadiens get props in game 1 for keeping up in shots on goal with 29. Due to Fleury’s .966 save percentage however only 1 goal went in for the Canadiens. This was in the 2nd by Caufield.
Game 2: Knights 2 vs Canadiens 3
Game 2 started with a hot start by the Canadiens. In the first they had 2 goals in their 12 shots on goal, compared to the Golden Knights who only had 4 shots on goal with no score in the 1st. In the second the Canadiens scored again giving a 3-0 lead. However, thanks to Pietrangelo scoring in the 2nd the Golden Knights had a little life going into the 3rd down 3-1. Pietrangelo again capitalized on this and scored a 2nd goal in the 3rd, the Knights had 17 shots on goal this period. Their efforts were not enough and proved the hot start for the Canadiens was all they needed to hold off the Golden Knights. The Canadiens came away victorious to tie the series 1-1. Also notable Chandler Stephenson was out this game for the Golden Knights.
Game 3: Knights 2 vs Canadiens 3 (OT)
This game was in the Golden Knights hands, but a costly mistake by Marc Andre Fleury in the last two minutes sent this one into OT, where it was obvious the momentum was on the Canadiens side. This loss however was not all due to that mistake, it was also due to the stellar performance Carey Price put on. In game 3 the Golden Knights had 45 shots on goal and Price stopped 43 of these shots. In the first two periods alone Price stopped 29 of 30 shots. During those first two periods the Canadiens only had 8 shots on goal with 1 goal going in.
Looking at the first two periods it was a no brainer the Golden Knights were outplaying this team. Anderson changed this momentum for the Canadiens scoring the goal that sent to team into OT, as well as the OT winner. Another surge of life for the Canadiens could have came from the non call on Perry for what looked to be a highstick by Marchessault. Regardless the outcome was Canadiens win and go up 2-1 in the series.
Keys to Success for the Vegas Golden Knights
1) Shots on Goal: As I mentioned before the Golden Knights could still win this one in 6. They have outshot the Canadiens in all 3 games thus far, they will need to keep doing that. The Canadiens have started out strong in the first two games, but the third game the Golden Knights fixed that and had the strong start.
2) Score on the Power Play: The Golden Knights need to take advantage of powerplays and try to score on these. This is the Canadiens strongest asset, as they currently have a 92.7% penalty kill. Showing they can score on the power play could flip the script back in the Golden Knights favor.
3) Key Players: Pietrangelo is the player to watch moving forward for to Golden Knights, in the last 5 games he has had 4 goals and 6 points tacked on. With Chandler Stephenson still on day to day that first line will be one to watch. In Game 3 we saw Tuch move to this line which made them very fast paced. Stone, Tuch and Pacioretty will need to get into a rhythm if this is the first line moving forward. The Golden Knights could also have a goal tender switch up. It has been reported Lehner is expected to start.
Robin Lehner is expected to start in net tonight for the Golden Knights in Game 4 against Montreal, per @JesseGranger_.
Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed 7 goals over 3 games against the Canadiens (a .911 SV%) pic.twitter.com/hcENZfWB0l
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) June 20, 2021
What a series this has been so far. Do not count the Canadiens out to upset another team that many doubted they could keep up with. Golden Knights however can tie the series back up tonight. Just because they are down does not mean they are out. We saw what the Golden Knights did being down 2-0 in the series against the Avalanche. Right now it is anyone’s series to win. This one will be going six or seven games. Game 4 is tonight 6/20 at 8pm (EST).
~Josie Averitt (@Josieave On Twitter).
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