Canadiens at Golden Knights
9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS
Vegas leads best-of-7 series, 1-0
The Vegas Golden Knights will look to extend their winning streak to six games when they play the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Vegas, which won six in a row in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, can become the first team with a winning streak of at least six games in consecutive NHL postseasons since the Los Angeles Kings had one in three straight from 2012-14.
Marc-Andre Fleury, 5-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in his past five games, can become the first goalie 36 or older with a winning streak of at least six games in an NHL postseason since Dwayne Roloson won eight straight games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011. Fleury is 36; Roloson was 41.
The Golden Knights also have won five straight games at home, dating to Game 7 of the first round against the Minnesota Wild.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “We know the character of that team. We know what they’ve done. We’ve been in that spot ourselves where people have written us off. I know how we responded [coming from behind 2-0 against the Colorado Avalanche in the second round], and I saw how they responded [coming from behind 3-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round].
“We won one game. I think we can play better than we did last game. I’m sure they’re going to say they can play better, so it’s how everyone responds to Game 2.”
Teams that take a 2-0 lead are 76-7 (.915) winning a best-of-7 NHL semifinal series.
Here are 3 keys for Game 2:
1. Montreal’s health
Center Jake Evans (concussion) and defensemen Jon Merrill (undisclosed) and Jeff Petry (upper body) each has a chance to play. Merrill has missed seven games, Evans four, Petry two.
“We might have game-time decisions,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “They’re all doing better, and we’ll see. I mean, any of the three, if they play, it’s because they’re 100 percent or really close.”
Petry led the Canadiens in average ice time (22:44) in the regular season and was second in scoring with 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 55 games. He was averaging 23:52 of ice time in the playoffs before his injury, and has three assists in 10 games.
“He’s skating well, moving the puck well,” Ducharme said. “He’s good defending. He’s been one of our best defensemen, so obviously having him back would be a positive thing for our team. But we need 20 guys to be playing well.”
2. More offense from the defense
The Golden Knights got three of their four goals, six of their 12 points and 18 of their 30 shots on goal in Game 1 from defensemen.
Offense from their defensemen has been a big factor during their five-game winning streak. The seven defensemen to play have combined for 20 points (five goals, 15 assists), and Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez each has scored a game-winning goal.
In Vegas’ first nine playoff games, they got 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) from their defensemen.
3. First goal
The Canadiens outshot the Golden Knights 12-8 in the first period of Game 1 amid the energetic atmosphere of T-Mobile Arena, but they fell behind 1-0 after losing a face-off cleanly in the defensive zone, Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore scored and Montreal lost 4-1.
Montreal is 8-1 when scoring first in the playoffs and 0-3 when allowing the first goal.
“Playing with the lead is huge, especially on the road,” forward Tyler Toffoli said. “I think that’s going to be one of the key things for [Game 2], is have another good start and just capitalize on our opportunities.”
Canadiens projected lineup
Artturi Lehkonen — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Cole Caufield
Paul Byron — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Josh Anderson
Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Brett Kulak — Joel Edmundson
Alexander Romanov — Erik Gustafsson
Injured: Jake Evans (concussion), Jeff Petry (upper body), Jon Merrill (undisclosed)
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark — Nicolas Roy — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Keegan Kolesar — Ryan Reaves
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Scratched: Nicolas Hague, Cody Glass, Patrick Brown, Tomas Nosek, Logan Thompson, Jiri Patera, Jack Dugan, Peyton Krebs, Jonas Rondbjerg, Kaedan Korczak, Dylan Coghlan, Carl Dahlstrom, Jimmy Schuldt, Dylan Sikura
Petry did not take part in line rushes with the lineup regulars. … Evans stayed out for additional work with the extra players after practice. … The Golden Knights held an optional skate. No lineup changes are expected.