Canadiens Eliminate Golden Knights, Advance to 1st Stanley Cup Final Since 1993
David Becker/Associated Press
The Montreal Canadiens have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993 after defeating the visiting Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime on Thursday at the Bell Centre.
Artturi Lehkonen clinched the Cup berth with the overtime game-winner following passes from Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher.
The Canadiens were put in position to score after goaltender Carey Price, who made 37 saves, stopped a blistering slap shot from Alec Martinez. Montreal corralled the loose puck and began rushing to the Vegas goal.
The two teams traded goals throughout the game.
Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber started the scoring in the first period before Vegas left wing Reilly Smith answered before intermission.
Montreal right wing Cole Caufield put the Habs back in the lead in the second period, but Martinez collected a loose puck and put it past Price at 1:08 of the third.
Vegas opted to start Robin Lehner in goal for Marc-Andre Fleury, who was in the crease for four of the first five games. Lehner had 29 saves.
The Canadiens beat the Golden Knights four games to two in the best-of-seven matchup.
Golden Knights D Alec Martinez: 1 G, 6 SOG
Golden Knights RW Reilly Smith: 1 G, 5 SOG
Golden Knights LW Max Pacioretty: 5 SOG
Canadiens RW Cole Caufield: 1 G, 4 SOG
Canadiens LW Artturi Lehkonen: 1 G, 4 SOG
Canadiens G Carey Price: 37 SV
2021 Habs, Much Like 1993 Cup Winners, Have Superstar in Goal
The hero of the Canadiens’ 1993 Stanley Cup run was goaltender and Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Roy, who went 16-4 with a .929 save percentage and 2.13 GAA. He was simply sensational for a Canadiens team that went 10-1 in playoff overtime games that year.
Likewise, the Canadiens have a superstar goaltender in Price, who was spectacular yet again.
He made 37 saves in the victory, including one that led to the game-winning goal. Like Roy in 1993, his efforts have catapulted the Canadiens to the Cup.
Adulation poured in from Twitter after his efforts.
Price’s stats certainly don’t lie.
And neither do the highlights.
This Canadiens team has some similarities to the 1993 one. For starters, the Habs have a penchant for overtime, finding themselves in that spot three times in the last four games.
They also weren’t expected to win the Stanley Cup after finishing third in the Adams Division, although this year’s team is defying logic after winning just 24 of 56 regular-season games and starting the playoffs with just 59 points.
However, both teams had hot goalies to shepherd them through the playoffs, and that’s the key toward Montreal’s potential Cup win.
Afterward, Price had this to say:
It’s a well-deserved feeling for a star goaltender who’s been in Montreal’s net for 14 years and has a Hart Memorial Trophy and a Vezina Trophy to his name. He doesn’t have a Cup yet, but that may change soon as the Canadiens look for their 25th championship.
Vegas Offense Falls Short
The storyline for this series is fairly simple: Price was near-unbeatable, and the Vegas forwards didn’t do enough to push the Golden Knights past the underdog Habs into the Cup Final.
That group combined to score just five goals in six games as the Vegas blueliners led the way with eight tallies.
The Golden Knights defensemen’s scoring efforts kept Vegas in this series, but as a team, it never scored more than two goals at any time from Games 2-6.
Vegas certainly posted a valiant effort, registering 39 shots Thursday after mustering only 48 combined shots through Games 5 and 6. Price was simply too strong, though, as the netminder kept Vegas from breaking through.
The top Vegas forwards, who had been excellent for much of this year, could not get it done. Mark Stone, who led the Golden Knights with 61 points, had zero this series. Jonathan Marchessault, who had a penchant for clutch postseason goals earlier this year, had just one assist.
The Golden Knights are now left to wonder what might have been after entering this semifinal as the clear favorite to make the Cup following a regular season that saw them finish tied for the league lead with 82 points. The table was set for the Golden Knights to hoist the Cup, but it was not meant to be after the team ran into a buzzsaw at goalie.
Vegas isn’t the first favored team to lose to an underdog with a hot netminder. Notable examples of giant-killers include Jean Sebastien Giguere and the 2002-03 Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Dwayne Roloson and the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers and Jordan Binnington and the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues. Price and this year’s Canadiens have added their name to that list, and Vegas was simply unfortunate to face off against a brick wall.
Montreal will face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa will host New York for Game 7 of its Stanley Cup semifinal series Friday at 8 p.m. ET in Amalie Arena.
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