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Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2: Montreal evens series at 1-1 thanks to quick start and goaltending in Game 2

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The Stephenson-less Golden Knights’ late push was not enough after a bad start.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Vegas Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal Canadiens continued their series on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights were not able to get out to a good start, and it bit them in the end. Montreal went up early and did not look back, taking Game 2 by a final score of 3-2 in the end to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Vegas was without Chandler Stephenson, who was a late scratch. Patrick Brown drew back into the lineup, and Nicolas Roy and Keegan Kolesar shared the top-line center duties. Montreal got a huge boost from the return of Jeff Petry, and Jon Merrill was on the back end for the Canadiens as well.

The Canadiens got out to a quick start, and it was very similar to Game 1. Marc-Andre Fleury was unable to keep them off the board in this one, however. Joel Armia slotted one into an open net after a dangerous rebound to break the scoreless tie.

The Golden Knights got a chance to turn the tide as they went to the power play after Petry was whistled for tripping. The opportunity went by the wayside, though, as the Canadiens killed off the penalty extremely efficiently.

The Habs continued to put pressure on and were once again able to get one past Fleury, and it was a tough goal to give up. Tyler Toffoli received a pass from Cole Caufield and whiffed on the shot, but he got enough on the change-up to fool Fleury and beat him five-hole.

It was a terrible opening period for the Golden Knights, who headed to the locker room looking to rebound.

Vegas started the second period with more gumption, which included a post for Max Pacioretty in the early stages. Carey Price absolutely robbed Alec Martinez, as well, who had a wide-open net but shot the puck off Price’s back as he came across the crease.

The Golden Knights went to a power play moments later but were unable to put one by Price despite their best efforts.

Late in the period, Nick Holden went for the puck at the blue line but missed, allowing Paul Byron to walk in alone. He deked to his backhand and slotted one past Fleury to take a three-goal lead.

Just 61 seconds later, Alex Pietrangelo got Vegas on the board with a key goal late in the frame. He flung a wrist shot through traffic, and a screened Price had no chance.

The horn sounded and the Golden Knights looked to carry over their momentum into the final period.

Early in the third, the Knights were buzzing but were unable to slot one past Price.

About halfway through the period, Fleury made an excellent pad save that kept the Golden Knights in the game. He once again came up big a few minutes later after a dangerous move by former Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki.

The Golden Knights got within one goal moments after the save by Fleury. Pietrangelo scored his second of the game after a faceoff win by William Karlsson.

From that point on, it was all Vegas.

Fleury headed to the bench with 1:32 remaining in regulation, and the Knights called a timeout with 50.3 remaining.

Toffoli made a ridiculous diving play to break up Mark Stone’s shot on a yet another open net, which kept Vegas from tying the game.

The Canadiens were able to get out of the third and escape Vegas’ late push to tie the series at 1-1. The Habs played a strong game, particularly in the first period, and were effective with some great stick work defensively.

The series now shifts to Montreal for two games. The Golden Knights will need to have a better start Friday night in a pivotal Game 3.