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MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 20: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights makes the save against Corey Perry #94 of the Montreal Canadiens during the first period in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre on June 20, 2021 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo : Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
The Vegas Golden Knights evened their best-of-seven series with the Montreal Canadiens at two games apiece after escaping Game 4 with a 2-1 overtime victory on Sunday. Nicolas Roy scored an early overtime goal to hand back the home ice advantage to Vegas heading into Game 5.
Roy scores game-winner in overtime
Roy, a native of Amos, Quebec, scored the match-winner just 1:18 into overtime with a rebound off his own shot after Max Pacioretty delivered a shot attempt from a sharp angle. It was an emotional moment for Roy whose family was in attendance at Bell Centre. With the win, Vegas improved to 2-3 in overtime this postseason. The Canadiens, on the other hand, lost in overtime for the first time in five playoff games that needed extra time.
Paul Byron gave Montreal a 1-0 lead at 18:55 of the second period, scoring a breakaway goal after a perfect pass from Nick Suzuki. The Golden Knights, however, found an equalizer at 10:37 of the third period. Brayden McNabb scored his first postseason goal since May 12, 2018, blasting a wrist shot that found an opening between Carey Price’s body and glove.
McNabb and Roy’s late heroics, however, wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding contribution of goaltender Robin Lehner. He was a surprise starter in Game 4, replacing the in-form Marc-Andre Fleury who made a late-game error on Friday that led to Montreal’s 3-2 overtime win in Game 3.
Lehner delivers in surprise start
Lehner was exceptional on Sunday, stopping 27 of 28 shots. He made the save of the night against Cole Caufield at 7:16 of the third period, stopping the breakaway to keep it a one-goal game. It was a tactical masterstroke by Vegas coach Peter DeBoer who opted to start Lehner even with his bad performances of late.
Prior to Sunday’s start against Montreal, Lehner hadn’t won an outing since May 7. Lehner started just one playoff game this year, the Game 1 disaster against the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. Lehner surrendered seven goals on 37 shots in that contest which finished 7-1. Fleury returned to the net for Game 2 of that series and had played every postseason game since.
It will be interesting to see who DeBoer will start in Game 5. Will it be the steady hand of three-time Stanley Cup winner Fleury who has gone 9-6 with a .921 save percentage and 1.97 GAA this postseason? Or will it be the rejuvenated Lehner who single-handedly stopped the Canadiens in Game 4, holding Montreal to just one goal despite owning a 17-0 advantage in high-danger shots before overtime, according to Natural Stat Trick.
DeBoer said that his reasoning for the goalie switch in Game 4 was because of Fleury’s recent workload. The 36-year-old had started 15 of the Golden Knights’ 16 postseason games entering Sunday and the leading Conn Smythe candidate looked fatigued in the Game 3 loss.
Whoever starts for Vegas this coming Tuesday will have his work cut out for him as the Canadiens are playing some solid hockey at the moment. The Canadiens have not allowed a power-play goal in each of their last 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games. They are also 26-for-26 on the penalty kill and has scored three shorthanded goals during that span.
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