2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals Game 5
Series tied 2-2
How to watch
Start time: 9:00 PM EDT / 6:00 PM PDT
In Canada: Sportsnet (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Live
The Canadiens did exactly what they wanted to in Game 4. They were in full control of each period, getting penty of chances. Everything was pointing to a 3-1 series lead for the Canadiens and a chance to wrap things up on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
Robin Lehner was having none of that. Brought in to replace Marc-Andre Fleury after the regular starter booted away the win in the previous game, Lehner turned aside all but one of those dangerous shots on the night, including a breakaway from Cole Caufield as he closed down the five-hole on the rookie’s deke. The Golden Knights squeaked one through Carey Price, then scored early in overtime, and now the series is up for grabs as it returns to T-Mobile Arena.
Tale of the Tape
|48.6% (10th)||Corsi-for pct.||54.2% (6th)|
|2.40 (12th)||Goals per game||2.94 (5th)|
|2.27 (2nd)||Goals against per game||2.29 (4th)|
|18.4% (8th)||PP%||10.3% (16th)|
|92.9% (1st)||PK%||73.5% (12th)|
The same approach would probably earn Montreal a win nine times out of 10 tries, so doing the same thing will be the plan tonight in enemy territory. The Canadiens don’t have last change, but with all lines playing well and no actual third pairing to get caught on the ice, that isn’t a major concern, and hasn’t been all post-season long as Montreal has gone 6-2 on the road. It’s become a solid team from top to bottom with few points of weakness to break down.
A big reason for that seamless flow of four lines has been the surge in play from the third trio. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Josh Anderson had seen some flashes of their best form in the first two rounds, but have found more consistency in this matchup with the toughest team they’ve faced so far. Both have committed to the defensive game, Kotkaniemi with smart stick plays in own end and Anderson by using his speed to chase down forwards in the neutral zone to close off their space, and they’ve been having more of an impact as a result. The points they’ve put up in recent games are well deserved from their efforts.
The question tonight is whether they’ll once more try to solve Lehner, or if Marc-Andre Fleury, who had played all but one game this post-season before sitting out Game 4, will be back in front of his home crowd. Lehner played more than well enough to get a second game, with a more stable style than Fleury brings, but Fleury is the clear number-one option for the team. They say not to mess with a winning lineup, but there will be some questions about the decision no matter which netminder Peter DeBoer opts to run with.
As was the case in the last game, the Canadiens won’t alter their approach for the goalie in the net. One conversion of a rebound here, perhaps another penalty there (okay, we won’t count on that one) and the strategy will result in enough offence to win, take a 3-2 series lead, and have a shot at shaking hands when the teams travel back to Montreal for Game 6.