Canadiens at Golden Knights
9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS
Best-of-7 series tied, 2-2
Marc-Andre Fleury could start for the Vegas Golden Knights when they play the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The goalie left the ice before Robin Lehner at the morning skate, a sign he could start after Lehner made 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 4 on Sunday.
Fleury mishandled the puck late in the third period of Game 3 on Friday, leading to the tying goal by Josh Anderson with 1:55 left. The Canadiens won 3-2 in overtime.
But Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said that had nothing to do with why Lehner started Game 4. It was to give Fleury a rest and take advantage of their goalie depth. Fleury has started 15 of 17 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and is 9-6 with a 1.97 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and one shutout.
“We’re professional athletes, and we’re all very, very competitive,” Vegas defenseman Nick Holden said. “And so, whenever you’re not in and you’re coming back in, you want to make sure you’re at the top of your game, and I can’t expect him to be anything but that.
“Obviously, they gave him a night off the other night, and if he’s in tonight, he’s going to have a little more juice, a little more energy. I just expect him, just like [Lehner] would, to bring his A-game.”
Teams that win Game 5 when a best-of-7 NHL semifinal is tied have a series record of 47-15 (.758).
Here are 3 Keys for Game 5:
1. First period
The Canadiens dominated the first period in each of the first two games on the road, outshooting the Golden Knights 12-8 in Game 1 and 12-4 in Game 2.
They did not score in the first period of Game 1 and lost 4-1. They took a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 2 and won 3-2. They are 6-0 in the playoffs when leading after the first.
Assistant Luke Richardson, filling in for coach Dominique Ducharme, who is unavailable due to NHL COVID-19 protocol, said the Canadiens use their defensive style to their advantage on the road.
“They want to maybe put on a show for the home crowd,” Richardson said. “They want to do something spectacular. We’re usually in the way of that, and it’s frustrating. So it usually bodes well for us in the long run.”
2. Stephenson’s status
Chandler Stephenson will be a game-time decision after the injured Golden Knights center did not play the past three. He participated in the morning skate after DeBoer said his return was “on the horizon” Monday.
If Stephenson returns, he will add speed to the first line, and the effect will be felt down the lineup. Keegan Kolesar, Tomas Nosek, Nicolas Roy and Alex Tuch, each of whom has filled in for Stephenson at times, could stay in the bottom six.
“It slots us like you want it to be slotted, where we have depth in scoring on all four lines and we can create some mismatches,” DeBoer said. “The few games that we’ve had a full lineup like that, I feel that we’re a different team. We’ll see. We’ll make that decision at game time. His absence is missed.”
3. Vegas’ top scorers
The Golden Knights have scored 10 goals in the series. Three have come from forwards. None from the top seven goal-scorers in the regular season: Max Pacioretty (24), Mark Stone (21), Tuch (18), Jonathan Marchessault (18), Stephenson (14), William Karlsson (14) and Reilly Smith (14).
Stone has scored one goal in his past 12 games, Tuch one in his past 13 and Smith in his past 14. Stephenson has no goals in 14 playoff games. The power play is 0-for-11 in the series and 4-for-39 in the playoffs (10.3 percent, worst among the 16 playoff teams).
“At some point, the big guys are going to have to come out and step up here, including myself,” Marchessault said. “I think it’s not good enough for the forwards that we have to have only three goals in four games.”
Canadiens projected lineup
Artturi Lehkonen — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli — Nick Suzuki — Cole Caufield
Paul Byron — Jesperi Kotkaniemi — Josh Anderson
Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Jon Merrill — Erik Gustafsson
Scratched: Brett Kulak, Alexander Romanov, Tomas Tatar, Michael Frolik, Alex Belzile, Xavier Ouellet, Cayden Primeau, Cale Fleury, Charlie Lindgren, Lukas Vejdemo, Laurent Dauphin, Jesse Ylonen, Otto Leskinen, Michael McNiven
Injured: Jake Evans (concussion)
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark — Nicolas Roy — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Scratched: Ryan Reaves, Patrick Brown, Nicolas Hague, Cody Glass, Logan Thompson, Jiri Patera, Jack Dugan, Peyton Krebs, Jonas Rondbjerg, Kaedan Korczak, Dylan Coghlan, Carl Dahlstrom, Jimmy Schuldt, Dylan Sikura
No lineup changes are expected for the Canadiens.