Game 9: Montreal Canadiens @ Vegas Golden Knights
How to watch
For the fifth time in eight games to begin the 2023-24 season, the Montreal Canadiens were trailing heading into the third period on Saturday versus the Winnipeg Jets. For the third time in those five games, the Canadiens tied the game to earn a point. Their last two games are in that category, and both became wins in extra time.
“One of the big reasons is our supporters and the atmosphere,” Martin St-Louis explained about the team’s resilience. “It gives us confidence and energy.” The two comeback wins capped off a three-game homestand, and they’ve gotten off to a 5-2-1 record while playing six of eight games at home.
Now as October comes to a close, the Canadiens are embarking on their first actual road trip of the season, a three-game week playing teams in the Western Conference. They won’t have the benefit of the Bell Centre fans inspiring their play, something they could surely use tonight versus the defending Stanley Cup winner, the Vegas Golden Knights.
|48.0% (24th)||Scoring-chances-for %||52.2% (11th)|
|3.13 (16th)||Goals per game||3.67 (6th)|
|3.25 (21st)||Goals against per game||2.22 (3rd)|
|22.6% (11th)||PP%||21.9% (12th)|
|75.6% (21st)||PK%||88.0% (8th)|
|0-1-1||Head-to-Head Record (22-23)||2-0-0|
There is no championship hangover for the club from Las Vegas. Unwilling to relinquish the belt as best team in the NHL, the Golden Knights occupy the top spot in the league standings after nine games played, joining the Boston Bruins as the only two teams without a regulation loss. Their first defeat of any kind came on Friday when they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, and they rebounded immediately with a victory the next night.
They also hold the league’s top goal differential at +15, a combination of being sixth in goals scored (3.67 per game), and third in goals allowed (2.22). However, much of that number was accumulated in the opening week of the season when they strung together three 4-1 wins. Their games have been closer since, and four of their last five have been one-goal contests (discounting one empty-netter).
Last year’s surprise playoff performer, goaltender Adin Hill, isn’t quite at the .932 form that his team rode to a championship, but Logan Thompson has been close to that level through his four starts. He currently has the same .930 mark as Jake Allen, so that matchup, if the coaches conspire to create it, is an even one.
The advantage Montreal will have is catching the Golden Knights on their third game in four nights, a situation that the Canadiens faced about a week ago and resulted in one of their worst performances of the year; also their only loss in their last five games. Las Vegas did have its off day yesterday so they won’t be dealing with quite the same level of fatigue, but it’s the most rigorous stretch of the Golden Knights season so far and bound to have an effect on their play.
Historically (if six seasons of existence qualifies), the Canadiens have fared well versus the Golden Knights, with a 5-4-1 regular-season record to go along with their Clarence Campbell Bowl victory in 2021. However, they haven’t earned a win since that progression to the Stanley Cup Final. It will take a solid effort from Kaiden Guhle, (hopefully) Mike Matheson, and the rest of the defence corps to limit what is inarguably a better forward lineup, but, as Chicago proved just days ago, Las Vegas isn’t as formidable as its record suggests. Don’t discount Allen earning at least another point from a game in which the Habs are the underdog.