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In the Habs' Room: Penalties 'killed our rhythm' in Vegas, Ducharme says

Penalties robbed Montreal of any momentum it had in the first period.

Nick Holden #22 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates with Jonathan Marchessault #81 and William Karlsson #71 after scoring a goal in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens during Game One of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at T-Mobile Arena on June 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There are a number of things the Canadiens have to do if they hope to turn the tables on the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup semifinal at T-Mobile Arena Wednesday (9 p.m., CBC, SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

They have to find a way to stay out of the penalty box.

They have to find a way to get some bodies in front of Vegas goaltender Marc-André Fleury.

They have to win faceoffs at the right time.

And they have to hope that defenceman Jeff Petry is back in the lineup sooner rather than later.

The Golden Knights posted a 4-1 win Game 1 Monday night and the consensus in the Canadiens’ post-game interviews was that the penalties robbed Montreal of any momentum it had in the first period.

“It was the penalties we took in the second period,” said coach Dominique Ducharme. “They killed our rhythm. I liked our first period. We could’ve taken the lead at the start of the game. I think the three or four penalties we took in the second period really hurt us.”

This is one of those situations that could have gone either way. The Montreal PK was perfect in the Winnipeg sweep and went 4-for-4 Monday, which should have given the Canadiens a lift. But, after killing a penalty at the end of the first period and another at the start of the second, Vegas scored just 11 seconds after the second penalty expired to take a 2-0 lead.

Vegas outshot Montreal 30-28, but those numbers are deceiving. After a strong first period, the Montreal offence put little pressure on Fleury and there was no pushback in the third period until the dying minutes when Montreal pulled Carey Price for an extra attacker.

The lone Montreal goal was a power-play effort from rookie Cole Caufield. It was his first NHL playoff goal and his parents were in the building to witness it.

“It was pretty special to have them at the game,” said Caufield who led the Canadiens with six shots on goal. “It was really special just to have them in the same country as I am, honestly. It was a really special feeling. Obviously, it wasn’t the result we wanted, but we’ll be back on Wednesday for more.

Though faceoffs are not one of Montreal’s strengths, the Canadiens won 56 per cent of the draws Monday. But the game proved that it doesn’t matter how many faceoffs you win much as when you win — or, in this case, lose — them. Two of the Vegas goals were scored after the Canadiens lost defensive zone faceoffs.

The score would have been more lopsided if Price hadn’t made big saves on Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault, but his teammates had trouble with a style that features a heavy net presence and active defencemen who accounted for 18 of the Golden Knights’ 30 shots on goal.

There was some concern that Vegas would dominate the game physically, but that wasn’t the case. Montreal out-hit the home team 52-44.

“We need our four lines and our six defencemen,” said Ducharme. “We want to be more consistent and we want to be better. We have players who had a good game, while others didn’t. Right now, we can’t allow that to happen. I think our four lines can be more consistent.”

And that brings us to Petry. Without him, the Canadiens have a top three and three other guys rotating in positions where they are least likely to be a liability.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

  1. Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens allows a goal to Alec Martinez (not pictured) of the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period in Game One of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on June 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Golden Knights take Game 1 with 4-1 win over Canadiens

  2. Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights waves as he celebrates the team's 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 28, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Stu Cowan: Former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is happy in Vegas

  3. Max Pacioretty's tour of duty with the Habs was ambiguous at best. He scored loads of goals, topping 30 five times while wearing the CH, but he was often a disappointment in the playoffs, Brendan Kelly writes.

    What the Puck: Max Pacioretty has chance to prove Marc Bergevin wrong

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