The Montreal Canadiens take a 3-2 series lead over the Vegas Golden Knights, as a defensive gem from the Habs put Vegas on the brink of elimination.
Inside the first three minutes of the very first period, Vegas was granted an early power-play. A special teams unit that has had tremendous difficulty scoring, started game five with a chance to give the scoreboard some digits to work with.
Unfortunately, Vegas would be turned aside on the powerplay and from that point on, a very uncharacteristic period presumed. The Golden Knights could not do the basics very well in the first frame and it led to giving up the first goal of the game to the Canadiens.
Josh Anderson, who has been about as productive as it comes for Montreal, got in behind a defender and one-on-one with Marc Andre-Fleury. Fleury would turn away the Anderson back-hander but sprawled and defenseless, Fleury could not stop a Jesperi Kotkaniemi rebound, to open the scoring.
The reminder of the period was a visually frustrating one for the Golden Knights. A very stout defensive team in Montreal, seemingly won every single battle on the ice.
That is not to say Vegas had zero chances, because they did. Just very familiar to games previously played against Carey Price.
Shots being taken to fine and flung over the net and of course being stuffed away down low by the big pad of the Candaiens goal-tender.
Heading into the break Montreal held onto a 1-0 lead.
Vegas struggled mightily in the second frame, the lack of execution was more apparent in the second period than maybe it has in the entire playoffs. Montreal’s defense was able to lead to high danger chances on Fleury and two more cashed in.
Eric Staal, beat Fleury with a wrist shot to extend the lead to 2-0. Later, Montreal's highly praised rookie Cole Caufield tallied his third goal of the playoffs, the Candaiens took a 3-0 lead into the third period.
The Golden Knights had been blanked through 40-minutes off hockey. Until the former Montreal captian scored to put a temporary jolt back into the building.
Max Pacroietty fanned on his first attempt, then stayed with the puck to put a snipe past Price. The 3-1 deficit would remain until the waning minutes for Vegas.
Price would present himself as a wall in between the pipes to further an outstanding defensive effort from Montreal. To cap it off, Nick Suzki would walk in an empty-netter to give the Canadiens a 4-1 victory.
Montreal has shocked the entire hockey universe with their production this postseason. The Habs find themselves a win away from their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1993.
This will also be Carey Price’s first put-away game that could lead to a Stanley Cup appearance, in his very successful career.
As for Vegas, they head back east to Quebec to try to force a game seven in a far different environment. It won’t be nearly as loud, as only around 2,500 fans are allowed to attend games at the Bell Centre, yet the intensity of facing elimination for the first time this playoffs will radiate off the ice.
Game Six is Thursday at 5:00PM pacific on USA Network.