The Golden Knights almost completed a desperate push to get back into Game 2, but the Canadiens were rewarded for their strong overall work, winning 3-2. With that, their Semifinal series is now tied 1-1.
Clearly, Jeff Petry makes a difference for the Canadiens, including in Game 2. Now consider it essentially a “best of five” series between two teams with interestingly intermingling styles.
Strong start from Canadiens — Petry plays; Stephenson out
In Game 1, the Canadiens outplayed the Golden Knights early, but Vegas eventually pulled away. In Game 2, the Canadiens pulled off an even more impressive start, and this time the Habs benefited on the scoreboard.
Through the first period of Game 2, the Canadiens registered 12 shots on goal, versus just four by the Golden Knights. Vegas didn’t get a whole lot going during the middle frame, either.
You won't see many heat maps more lopsided than this one.
Montreal with tons of action right around the Vegas net, while the Golden Knights have next to nothing on the other end. pic.twitter.com/IYmb4CBDpJ
— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) June 17, 2021
The Canadiens scored the first three goals of Game 2, collecting two in the first period, and then going up 3-0 after Paul Byron burned the Golden Knights on a breakaway.
That goal ended up standing as the game-winner:
It was a game where the Habs clearly benefited from Jeff Petry’s return. His return was a sight to see, even if his eyes were striking. By most accounts, Petry isn’t going through pain or dealing with vision issues.
From Jeff Petry’s wife on Instagram: pic.twitter.com/T34KMQfB2B
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) June 17, 2021
Either way, the Canadiens looked impressive, especially through the first portions of Game 2.
Too little, too late for Golden Knights vs. Canadiens in Game 2
A hair over a minute after Byron put the Canadiens up 3-0, Alex Pietrangelo gave the Golden Knights some hope with the 3-1 goal in Game 2. Pietrangelo continued his strong postseason by also scoring the Golden Knights’ second goal.
So far in this series, the Golden Knights have lived off of scoring from their defense, with Pietrangelo joined by the expected (Shea Theodore, Alec Martinez), and the not-so-expected (Nick Holden).
Considering the one-two punch of Max Pacioretty – Mark Stone and “The Misfit Line” of Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, and Jonathan Marchessault, the Habs would likely be happy if Vegas’ forwards stay quiet.
Then again, Chandler Stephenson is an underrated part of that Pacioretty – Stone line, and he wasn’t available in Game 2. Sure, the Golden Knights have manufactured strong center play both recently and since their inception (few expected much from Stephenson, and William Karlsson wasn’t expected to be a legit top-two center during the expansion draft, either), but could this be an issue going forward?
Maybe the Golden Knights just need to hope that Stephenson can return.
Either way, this series is now tied 1-1, and will shift to Montreal starting in Game 3 on Friday (8 p.m. ET; USA Network / Peacock). If people needed proof that the Canadiens should be taken seriously, then Game 2 should drive that point home.
CANADIENS VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (Series tied 1-1) – series livestream link
Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Game 3: Fri. June 18: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
Game 4: Sun. June 20: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 5: Tues. June 22: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 9 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
*Game 6: Thurs. June 24: Golden Knights at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (USA Network / Peacock)
*Game 7: Sat. June 26: Canadiens at Golden Knights, 8 p.m ET (NBCSN / Peacock)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.