The Montreal Canadiens topped the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in game five Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The Hab’s outplayed Vegas for the third time in five games and now have a chance to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals with a win at home for game six.
Meanwhile, the Knights prepare to enter familiar territory once more in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs; win or go home.
“You can point to a lot of things -- we just weren’t sharp in our execution, in our decisions and it cost us,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer told ESPN. “We’ve got to find a way. You’ve got to find a way this time of year against the good teams, and against pressure, and against tension, against a good goalie. Those are the teams that end up standing at the end of the day.”
Vegas will travel back to Montreal for a win or go home contest Thursday, June 24.
Montreal capitalized on Vegas’ hesitation and turnovers.
Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored first for Montreal on a saved shot from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Vegas’ Nick Holden was caught puck-watching as Kotkaniemi flew past him to knock in the go-ahead shot.
The second period brought more of the same for the Knights – ugly turnovers and poor defense in the passing lanes.
Montreal’s Eric Staal and Cole Caufield would score goals to put the Knights in a 3-0 hole.
Vegas missed a number of point-blank shots in the second and third period.
Right-wing Reilly Smith fired a puck directly into Montreal’s Carey Price and his leg padding rather than attempting to lift the puck.
The play from Vegas’ forwards has been lacking against Montreal. Captain Mark Stone has been quiet all series long and had some uncharacteristic turnovers.
His offensive star teammate Max Pacioretty put the Knights on the board early in the third period with a shot upstairs over Price, but the momentum did not swing towards the 702.
The shots would not come for the Knights in the third period and Montreal’s Nick Suzuki put the finishing touches on a complete performance by Montreal.