3 Keys: Golden Knights at Canadiens, Game 3 of Semifinals

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Golden Knights at Canadiens

8 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied, 1-1

Alex Tuch could move up to be the center on the top line for the Vegas Golden Knights against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre.

The forward skated between Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty during the morning skate in place of Chandler Stephenson, who is day to day with an undisclosed injury.

Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said Tuch’s inclusion on the line will be a game-time decision.

“He’s similar to Stephenson,” Vegas forward Reilly Smith said. “He’s got a lot of speed. I think ‘Patches’ and ‘Stoner’ are used to playing with guys who come through the middle with a lot of speed.”

Tuch, normally a wing, has scored eight points (four goals, four assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games this season.

“He’s kind of like that X-factor,” Smith said. “You can slot him in any position, and he’ll be productive.”

The Canadiens will try for their ninth win in 10 games. It will be the first time that a United States-based NHL team plays in Montreal in 15 months because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think our confidence has been high from the start,” Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. “I don’t think you can get to a place where you feel too comfortable, too confident and you get on the verge of being too cocky because this game will humble you real quick.

“We’re a confident group but at the same time we understand the work that goes into that process.”

Teams that take a 2-1 lead are 89-25 (.781) winning a best-of-7 NHL semifinal series.

Here are three keys:

 

1. Canadiens must avoid distractions

Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme was not at the morning skate because of irregularities with his COVID-19 test results. He is fully vaccinated and will be further tested later in the day.

A similar situation occurred with the Colorado Avalanche the morning of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Second Round on June 10 when coach Jared Bednar was not at the skate because of an irregularity with his test results. Bednar was cleared in time for the game.

For the Canadiens, the key will be to focus on the game at hand and not be distracted by the Ducharme situation, as difficult as that might be.

 

2. Sputtering Vegas power play needs to produce

The Golden Knights are 4-for-34 on the power play (11.8 percent) during the postseason, 15th in the NHL. Those struggles have been magnified through the first two games against Montreal with Vegas going 0-for-6. Give the Canadiens’ penalty killers credit. They’ve scored more goals (four) than they’ve allowed (three) while shorthanded in the playoffs.

 

3. Score first

Montreal has scored first in eight of its past nine games and is 8-1 in that stretch. The Canadiens used that recipe for success in Game 2 when they built a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 victory. 

It’s a trend DeBoer said the Golden Knights must change. 

“We’ve got to get off to a good start,” he said. “It’s part of their identity. Anytime you are playing a team, you want to recognize that.”

 

Golden Knights projected lineup

Max Pacioretty — Alex Tuch — Mark Stone

Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam Karlsson — Reilly Smith

Mattias JanmarkNicolas RoyPatrick Brown

William CarrierKeegan KolesarRyan Reaves

Alec MartinezAlex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabbShea Theodore

Nick HoldenZach Whitecloud

Marc-Andre Fleury

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Nicolas Hague, Cody Glass, Tomas Nosek, Logan Thompson, Jiri Patera, Jack Dugan, Peyton Krebs, Jonas Rondbjerg, Kaedan Korczak, Dylan Coghlan, Carl Dahlstrom, Jimmy Schuldt, Dylan Sikura

Injured: Chandler Stephenson (undisclosed)

 

Canadiens projected lineup

Artturi LehkonenPhillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher

Tyler ToffoliNick SuzukiCole Caufield

Paul ByronJesperi KotkaniemiJosh Anderson

Joel ArmiaEric StaalCorey Perry

Ben ChiarotShea Weber

Joel EdmundsonJeff Petry

Jon MerrillErik Gustafsson

Carey Price

Jake Allen

Scratched: Brett Kulak, Alexander Romanov, Tomas Tatar, Michael Frolik, Alex Belzile, Xavier Ouellet, Cayden Primeau, Cale Fleury, Charlie Lindgren, Lukas Vejdemo, Laurent Dauphin, Jesse Ylonen, Otto Leskinen, Michael McNiven

Injured: Jake Evans (concussion)

 

Status report

No lineup changes are expected for the Canadiens. … Evans, a forward, wore a no-contact jersey at the morning skate.

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