The Montreal Canadiens are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
That’s a sentence probably as improbable as any to come out of this year’s playoffs, but following their 4-1 Game 5 win in Vegas, that’s where they stand.
The Golden Knights lack of offense, especially on the power play, has been the story. Six of their seven leading scorers in the regular season — Mark Stone, Alex Tuch, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and the recently-returned Chandler Stephenson — have been held off the scoreboard through the first five games of the series.
That’s proven costly, as they now face elimination heading back to Montreal for Game 6.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the playoffs 8:45 into the game. In the second, Nick Suzuki — the former Vegas draft pick — slid a pass from the wall to Eric Staal in the slot, who doubled the Montreal lead.
Cole Caufield notched his third goal of the playoffs with a power play goal just over three minutes later.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who started in net following Robin Lehner‘s Game 4 win, made a key save on Joel Armia shortly after, which could have been a momentum spark. Late in the third, they even earned a power play chance.
Much like the rest of their power plays this round — and like any the Canadiens have faced, since they killed 28 in a row — it didn’t do much. They dropped to 0-for-13 on the man advantage in the series, and headed to the locker room down 3-0.
Max Pacioretty finally nabbed his first goal of the series 4:09 into the third period to make it a one-goal game, on a pass from Game 4’s hero, Nicholas Roy.
Vegas, which only had 15 shots after two period, managed 12 shots in the third. They pulled Fleury with just under two minute to go and challenged Price, who finished with 26 saves.
Suzuki, who had arguably his strongest postseason showing yet, sealed the game with an empty net tally with 1:06 to go. His line finished with six combined points.
Now up against elimination, the Golden Knights don’t have much time to figure out what’s plagued their offense. Some of it is Price, who is having an outstanding postseason, but Stone combined for one shot on net over the last two games.
Vegas has won two games in a row before, and its dealt with being down in a series, but that’s a brutal way to trail in a series. Not only were the Golden Knights heavy favorites going into the series, but off the momentum of an overtime win, they had one of their worst postseason showings on home ice in Game 5.
The Canadiens talent, between the three-point night from Suzuki and power play prowess of Caufield and Price’s effort in net, won them a key game. At some point, the Golden Knights top talent is going to have to win them one. So far, they haven’t done that. It has them one game away from going home.
CANADIENS VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (MON leads 3-2) – series livestream link
Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Game 3: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 4: Golden Knights 2, Canadiens 1 (OT)
Game 5: Canadiens 4, Golden Knights 1
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)