The Vegas Golden Knights reclaimed home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Semifinal series with the Montreal Canadiens with a 2-1 overtime win on Sunday night at the Bell Centre.
Nicolas Roy played the overtime hero, beating a sprawling Carey Price on a rebound chance just 1:18 into overtime.
Until the third period, the Vegas Golden Knights were mostly passengers in the game. Just take a look at the heat map from the first two periods (via NaturalStatTrick):
After two periods, the Canadiens had more chances and they were of better quality. Even when the VGK did manage to get a good chance, it ended up biting them shortly thereafter. Alex Pietrangelo hits a post during a late second period power play, and not only do the Habs kill it off but Paul Byron then goes down and scores right after.
It really took until the third period for Vegas to find its urgency, with Brayden McNabb scoring to tie the game at 10:37. If anything, the Vegas Golden Knights once again owe a debt of gratitude to their goaltender. This time it was Robin Lehner who played an amazing game and kept the VGK in it until they could find some type of offense. Lehner finished with 27 saves, several of them spectacular including stopping Cole Caufield on a breakaway when Montreal could have gone ahead 2-0.
Once again the biggest issue for the Golden Knights was a lack of scoring from the top-six forwards. At least William Karlsson and Max Pacioretty registered assists, but even the most dangerous chances that didn’t go in seemed to come from the defense. Pacioretty finished with five shots to lead the team as well.
Now the teams will head to Las Vegas for Game Five on Tuesday night.
- Robin Lehner looked great for only playing once in the last 40 days, and made a huge difference tonight. It’s not great that Vegas has had to rely on its goaltending so much, but at least tonight they rewarded the effort. Pacioretty said Lehner has been the team’s biggest cheerleader while he’s not playing and deserves to get rewarded.
- While the mood is much better, the Vegas Golden Knights still haven’t seen a goal from the team’s top-six forwards in this series. As mentioned above some of the stats were better but the bottom line isn’t – they still need to get some production from the big guns. That said, it’s pretty impressive that the VGK are tied 2-2 in this series despite this lack of scoring.
- Lehner got a shot in at the media in his post-game, saying that it motivates him to see them “talking shit” about him on Twitter. He went on to talk about his numbers in previous seasons and made it clear he believes in himself and his abilities regardless of what people say.
- The loss was the first of the playoffs in overtime for Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens. Nic Roy’s family was in attendance and saw him score the game-winning goal.