Long live the final! Montreal eliminates Vegas Golden Knights with overtime goal – .

Long live the final! Montreal eliminates Vegas Golden Knights with overtime goal – .

MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens play their first Stanley Cup final since 1993.

Artturi Lehkonen scored 1:39 into overtime as the Canadiens beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Thursday to win their 4-2 third-round series.

The winger took advantage of Phillip Danault’s offense during overtime and shot his third game of the playoffs upstairs on Robin Lehner to spark wild scenes inside and outside the Bell Center.

Carey Price has stopped 37 shots for Montreal, which will seek to end the Canadian Championship drought that dates back to the franchise’s last title 28 years ago.

Shea Weber and Cole Caufield scored the other goals for the home side in front of 3,500 boisterous fans.

The Canadians, who improved to 5-1 in overtime in the playoffs, are expected to face the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders in the final. This semi-final game is tied 3-3 with Game 7 scheduled for Friday in Tampa.

Reilly Smith and Alec Martinez responded for Vegas. Lehner, who won Game 4 by a 2-1 overtime score at the Bell Center, but watched Montreal’s 4-1 win in Game 5 at Sin City with Vézina Trophy finalist Marc-André Fleury back in the precinct, finished with 29 saves.

William Karlsson added two assists.

The frustrated Golden Knights finished the regular season second overall in the NHL – 23 points ahead of the 18th-ranked Canadiens – but like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets before them, had no answer for a relentless opponent who has spent a good chunk of the past two months confusing the hockey world.

Thursday was Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Quebec, and there was more to celebrate than usual as Canadians will now seek to bring the holy grail of sport back beyond the border after Vancouver (1994 and 2011 ), Calgary (2004), Edmonton (2006) and Ottawa (2007) have all failed in the final since Montreal triumphed 28 years ago.

Down 2-1 early in the third period, Vegas equalized at 1:08 when Price was handcuffed by Alex Pietrangelo’s initial shot that fell on Martinez for the defender to hit his fourth.

The Golden Knights kept pushing and had a few chances to take the lead before Lehner robbed Danault of the slot as the teams headed for their third straight overtime game at the Bell Center after splitting the top two.

Caufield broke a tie 1-1 at 9:36 of the second when he landed a pass from Joel Edmundson past Brayden McNabb and ran around the Vegas defender before shooting Lehner upstairs for his fourth goal of the series.

The 20-year-old had a few choice words – “It’s good that he opened his mouth about this” – after the Vegas goalie stopped Caufield in a breakaway in Game 4, then told reporters the pre-scout suggested the Montreal winger was going to hole five.

The crowd at the Bell Center made it rain “Lehner!” Lehner! sings as thousands of well-lubricated fans celebrate in the streets outside the arena.

Caufield became the first player his age or younger to score four times in the third round since Jordan Staal with Pittsburgh in 2008.

Vegas got a powerful player soon after, but fell to 0 for its last 17 and 4 for 42 in the playoffs.

Montreal, meanwhile, has killed its 30th straight men’s advantage since Game 4 against Toronto.

The Canadiens didn’t need Price to really make a difference in the series, but he made an exceptional pad save on Karlsson from the slot of a Martinez practice later in the period before denying Smith a chance as well. backhand.

With similarities to the team’s memorable run in the spring of 1993 – an underdog who shouldn’t challenge the big boys – Montreal is in its record 33rd NHL final since 1917-18 and will look to add to its record of 24 Banners cutting.

The Canadiens clinched a berth in the home title streak for the seventh time since the league’s expansion in 1966-67, and the first since the Islanders lost in Game 5 at the Montreal Forum on May 24, 1993.

Montreal qualified for the Eastern Conference finals in 2010 and 2014, but lost to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, respectively.

Fans gathered outside the Bell Center in the hours before the puck fell on a sunny holiday evening in Montreal, several of whom wore Canadiens jerseys, waving the province’s fleur-de-lis flag – or both.

While general manager Marc Bergevin watched from a private suite in his lucky red suit, the Canadiens opened the scoring on the power play in the first period. Martinez’s stick exploded on a clearance attempt and the puck fell on Weber, who had his first game of the playoffs in front of a thrown Lehner at 14:06.

But the Golden Knights responded 48 seconds later when Smith redirected his series debut and playoff third, to lip Price’s crease on a nice feed from Shea Theodore.

Vegas was out of sync for most of the series after a 4-1 win in Game 1 – in large part because of Montreal’s stifling style and pressure – as Smith’s top-6 forward group. , Karlsson, former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault combined for two goals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 24, 2021.


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