The Montreal Canadiens will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
The Golden Knights advanced with a 6-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 on Thursday.
“They finished first or second in the League, but our objective is not to end it here,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said Monday. “If we want to make it to where we want to go, we’re going to have to beat the best teams.”
Montreal has won seven straight games. The Canadiens swept the Winnipeg Jets in the Stanley Cup Second Round after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round.
Vegas will have home-ice advantage in the best-of-7 series.
Tyler Toffoli leads Montreal with 10 points (four goals, six assists) this postseason. Nick Suzuki has scored eight points (four goals, four assists), and Joel Armia (four goals, three assists) and Eric Staal (one goal, six assists) each has scored seven points. Carey Price is 8-3 with a 1.97 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and one shutout.
William Karlsson leads Vegas this postseason with 11 points (four goals, seven assists). Four players (Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo, Mark Stone) have scored eight points each. Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-4 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Robin Lehner lost Game 1 to the Avalanche 7-1.
The Canadiens (Scotia North Division) did not play the Golden Knights (Honda West Division) this season because of temporary division realignment due to COVID-19. On Sunday, Canada announced its decision to allow NHL teams to cross the border into and from the United States for games beginning with the semifinals under a modified quarantine.
The Canadiens defeated the Golden Knights in each of two games last season. Armia, Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar were among six Canadiens who scored two points (one goal, one assist for each). Price made 30 saves in a 5-4 shootout win at Vegas on Jan. 18, 2020.
The Golden Knights were led by Reilly Smith (one goal, two assists) and Shea Theodore (three assists) with three points each against the Canadiens. Pacioretty, a former Montreal captain, had a goal and an assist. Fleury, a Quebec native, was 0-0-2, allowing nine goals on 61 shots (4.35 GAA, .852 save percentage).
The Canadiens have never played the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Montreal, which won two playoff series in the same season for the first time since advancing to the Eastern Conference Final in 2014 (lost to New York Rangers in six games), has not advanced to the Stanley Cup Final since winning the Cup in 1993.
“ was a great team,” Ducharme said. “The team really jelled together and went through some adversity (losing their first two games of the playoffs) against Quebec before getting on a roll. But every year is different and we’re not thinking about that kind of thing inside. We’re focused on the moment. I know from the outside, maybe you can see some things that are the same. But we have a long way to go.”
The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning play the New York Islanders in the other semifinal.