Golden Knights at Canadiens
8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS
Montreal leads best-of-7 series, 2-1
The Vegas Golden Knights look to even the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Semifinals with a win in Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal on Sunday.
The Canadiens took the lead in the series with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 3 on Friday. Josh Anderson tied the game 2-2 after a miscue by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:55 remaining, then scored the winner at 12:53 of overtime.
Robin Lehner was in the starters net during the morning skate but Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer would not confirm if he would replace Fleury.
“We’ve got an opportunity tonight to win a game and grab control of this series again going home, so I think your playoff mentality always has to be short memory and get ready for the next one,” DeBoer said. “We did a lot good things last game, didn’t result in a win. Let’s throw that game out there again tonight. I would expect a better result if we can do that.”
Corey Perry said the Canadiens understand the importance of extending their series lead. Teams that take a 3-1 lead are 69-1 (.986) winning a best-of-7 NHL semifinal series.
“We were a little slow to start that game in Game 3,” the Montreal forward said. “We started to find our legs as the game went on but (the) first half of that game, that’s not how we play. We’re on top of pucks, we’re on top of people, we’re moving the puck quick. So we’ll just get back to that and hopefully have another good start like we did out in Vegas (in Games 1 and 2).”
Here are 3 keys for Game 4:
1. Stone, Pacioretty must step up
Mark Stone led the Vegas Golden Knights in scoring during the regular season with 61 points (20 goals, 41 assists) and Max Pacioretty was second with 51 points (24 goals, 27 assists). The two forwards have combined for one point, an assist by Pacioretty in Game 3, in the first three games of the series. Pacioretty has eight shots on goal and Stone has five, so there have been chances. They will have to rediscover their scoring touch if the Golden Knights are to advance.
2. Canadiens to adjust without Ducharme
With Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme not behind the bench because of a positive COVID-19 test, assistant Luke Richardson took over for Game 3. Richardson normally runs the defense but now the forwards will have to get used to his in-game instructions and tactics as well.
“I think I speak for all the defensemen when I say we’d all go through a wall for Luke and I think that’s the best compliment you can give a coach,” Ben Chiarot said. “We’d go through a wall for him because we know he’d go through a wall for us. He’s a player’s coach.”
3. Fast start for Golden Knights
The Canadiens recipe for success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been simple: Get off to good starts to avoid chasing the game. Montreal entered Game 3 having scored first in eight of their previous nine games and went 8-1 over that stretch. It was a different story in Game 3. Vegas outshot Montreal 30-8 in the first two periods and opened the scoring but Carey Price kept the score tied 1-1.
“Obviously [Price is] a good goalie, so he’s going to stop a lot of pucks,” Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “We just got to keep firing away and obviously not get frustrated.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty — Alex Tuch — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark — Nicolas Roy — Tomas Nosek
William Carrier — Keegan Kolesar — Ryan Reaves
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Injured: Chandler Stephenson (undisclosed)
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
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Jon Merrill — Erik Gustafsson
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)
No lineup changes are expected for Montreal.