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Montreal eliminates Vegas, heads to Stanley Cup Final

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JUNE 24: Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15 and Erik Gustafsson #32 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrate the game-winning overtime goal scored by Artturi Lehkonen (not pictured) against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre on June 24, 2021 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

After defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in six games, the Montreal Canadiens are headed to the Stanley Cup final. Arrturi Lehkonen played hero for the Habs in Game 6.

What a sweet feed from Phillip Danault, too. This will be the franchise’s first trip back to the Cup Final since 1993. In that year, they defeated the LA Kings in five games to capture their league’s best 23rd Stanley Cup.

Underdogs from the start

The Montreal Canadiens were not supposed to be here. If a team from the North Division was going to make a deep postseason run, it was supposed to be the Toronto Maple Leafs. After going down 3 games to 1 in the first round to the aforementioned Maple Leafs, the Habs weren’t discouraged. They kept to their game plan and won the next three consecutive games.

In that series, they kept Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to a combined one goal.

Despite eliminating one of the best regular season teams in the entire league, people still weren’t convinced. Fans thought it was just a classic Maple Leafs collapse.

The Habs second round opponent, the Winnipeg Jets, were fresh off a first round sweep of Connor McDavid and the Oilers. In this round, it was the Jets who were the team being swept.

Montreal swept Winnipeg in four straight games to advance to the Conference Finals. Carey Price had a stellar .942 SV% and 1.50GAA in that series.

Silencing the doubters, once again

MONTREAL, QC - June 24: The Montreal Canadiens pose with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 during the first overtime period in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre on June 24, 2021 in Montreal, Quebec (Photo by Shafique Bakush/NHLI via Getty Images)
Shafique Bakush/NHLI via Getty Images

Coming into the Conference Finals, almost nobody had faith in Montreal. Vegas was fresh off of eliminating the President’s Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche. If the past rounds were any indication, though, Montreal didn’t mind the underdog role.

Once again, the Habs overcame the odds and won the series. In this particular series, the young guys were incredible for Montreal. Cole Caufield, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Nick Suzuki all played critical roles in this series. Additionally, Carey Price kept up his terrific performance. The Habs goaltender posted a .933SV% and 2.10GAA in this series.

Their stifling defense and penalty kill were also critical. Reilly Smith and Max Pacioretty were the only two forwards on the Golden Knights to find the back of the net. Mark Stone, William Karlsson, and Jonathan Marchessault were all held without a goal.

Following the game, Golden Knight’s captain Mark Stone pinned most of the blame upon himself.

“I got skunked this series. That can’t happen. I’m the captain of this team, the leader of this team. I take a lot of responsibility for what just occurred.”

Mark Stone on his performance vs. Montreal

The Canadiens will now wait to see their Stanley Cup Finals opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning take on the New York Islanders in Game 7 of their series tonight at 8:00 PM ET. The winner will meet Montreal in the finals. Regardless of which team wins tonight, they will obtain a home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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