Friday night, the semifinal series between the Golden Knights and Canadiens shifts to Montreal for Game 3. They enter the game tied at one win apiece after the Habs pulled off the upset in Game 2 on the road to even the series.
Here is a look at the series so far, some players to watch, along with a free pick to win. Vegas is still favored on the road at -162, while Montreal is a +136 home underdog.
Game 1 went about how everyone expected, as the Golden Knights cruised to a 4-1 victory. Defenseman Shea Theodore led the way with a goal and an assist, earning First Star honors, while right-wing Reilly Smith also chipped in a pair of assists. Despite the lopsided score, the two teams were fairly even in shots (30-29), with Montreal winning the majority of faceoffs as well.
Then on Wednesday night, Montreal took their revenge to even the series with a 3-2 win. The Canadiens scored a pair of goals in the opening period before right-wing Paul Byron scored the eventual game-winner in the second period to give them a 3-0 lead. Vegas did manage to keep it close, as defenseman Alex Pietrangelo scored twice in the game while the team as a whole won the shot battle 31-23.
Players to Watch
The Golden Knights are led in points by center William Karlsson, who has 13 through 15 games. Karlsson has at least one point in his last six games, including an assist in both meetings against Montreal.
Next on the points list is Pietrangelo, who is up to 10 points, has points in five of his last six games, headlined by the two-goal effort on Wednesday. Left-wing Jonathan Marchessault is another solid performer, as the veteran has a team-high six goals, three of which came in one game against Colorado in the last series.
For the Canadiens, right-wing Tyler Toffoli has been on a tear, raking in a team-leading 12 points this postseason. Toffoli has had a point in every game since Game 6 versus Toronto, an eight-game streak.
Among other notable performers, right-wing Joel Armia netted his fifth goal of the playoffs on Wednesday, his third goal in four games. Then there’s center Nick Suzuki, who, despite being tied for second on the team with eight points, is still searching for his first point against the franchise that drafted him.
The first two games continued the trend of the game’s first score belonging to the eventual winning team. That’s been the case for Montreal this postseason, as the Habs are 9-1 when scoring first and 0-3 when they allow the first goal.
There are a couple of things working in favor of Montreal heading into Friday. First, their penalty kill has been effective, stopping 21 straight power plays, including six this series. There’s also the possibility that Vegas’ first-line center Chandler Stephenson misses the game after being a surprise scratch on Wednesday, as he continues to deal with an upper-body injury.
The Canadiens will likely need another stellar performance from Carey Price, who continues to have an outstanding postseason. But I’ll gamble on Montreal carrying over their play from the last game and winning in front of the home crowd for Game 3.
Pick: Canadiens +136
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