Canadiens to play Golden Knights or Avalanche in Stanley Cup Semifinals

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The Montreal Canadiens will play the Colorado Avalanche or the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.

Montreal, the No. 4 seed in the Scotia North Division, swept the Winnipeg Jets, the No. 3 seed, in the Stanley Cup Second Round to advance. The Canadiens defeated the No. 1-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the Stanley Cup First Round and have won seven straight.

Montreal will have the fewest points among the four teams in the semifinals (59). Colorado and Vegas finished tied for first in the NHL with 82 points. The Avalanche and Golden Knights are tied in their best-of-7 series, with Game 5 at Colorado on Tuesday.

The Canadiens have never played the Golden Knights or Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tyler Toffoli led Montreal with eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 games this postseason entering Monday, and Eric Staal (one goal, six assists) and Joel Armia (four goals, three assists) had each scored seven points. Carey Price was 7-3 with a 1.97 goals-against average, a .938 save percentage and one shutout in 10 playoff games.

The Canadiens did not play the Avalanche or Golden Knights this season because of temporary division realignment due to COVID-19. On Sunday, Canada’s government announced its decision to allow NHL teams to cross the border into and from the United States for games beginning with the semifinals under a modified quarantine.

They were 2-0-0 against the Golden Knights last season. Armia, Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar were among six Canadiens who scored two points (one goal, one assist for each). Price made 30 saves in a 5-4 shootout win at Vegas on Jan. 18, 2020.

The Golden Knights were led by Reilly Smith (one goal, two assists) and defenseman Shea Theodore (three assists) with three points each against the Canadiens last season. Max Pacioretty, a former Montreal captain, had a goal and an assist. Marc-Andre Fleury, a Quebec native, was 0-0-2, allowing nine goals on 61 shots (4.35 GAA, .852 save percentage).

The Canadiens lost their only game against the Avalanche last season, 3-2 in Montreal on Dec. 5, 2019. Brendan Gallagher scored, and Cayden Primeau made 32 saves. Matt Calvert had a goal and an assist, and Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Graves each scored for Colorado. Pavel Francouz made 38 saves.

Montreal, which won two playoff series in the same season for the first time since advancing to the Eastern Conference Final in 2014 (lost to New York Rangers in six games), has not advanced to the Stanley Cup Final since winning the Cup in 1993.

“[1993] was a great team,” Canadiens coach Dominque Ducharme said Monday. “The team really jelled together and went through some adversity (losing their first two games of the playoffs) against Quebec before getting on a roll. But every year is different and we’re not thinking about that kind of thing inside. We’re focused on the moment. I know from the outside, maybe you can see some things that are the same. But we have a long way to go.”

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