After the brutal 3-2 overtime loss on Friday, the Vegas Golden Knights made a few drastic changes to their lineup for a must-win Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night at Bell Centre.
Pete DeBoer turned away from Vezina finalist Marc-Andre Fleury and instead elected to go with Robin Lehner, who hadn’t played since Game 1 against Colorado. Patrick Brown also came back into the lineup in place of Ryan Reaves, who played just six minutes in Game 3. Chandler Stephenson missed his third consecutive game.
The Golden Knights could not get much of anything going and were hemmed in for most of the first period.
Lehner was tested early and often, and he was excellent throughout the early stages of the game. He made multiple high-danger saves, including this one with the left pad.
https://t.co/aIeXI8q1BQ pic.twitter.com/dXM1TeKllr— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) June 21, 2021
The Canadiens continued to push, keeping play in the Knights’ end for the majority of the period. At one point, Vegas went more than six minutes without a shot on goal and finished the frame with just four. They were fortunate to head to the locker room with the game scoreless.
The Habs continued to impose their style of play in the second period. The Golden Knights were much better defensively despite being on their heels.
Tomas Nosek and Shea Weber began to chirp at one another, and the game started to get chippy. As a result, the game began to open up as the teams moved to 4-on-4 play, during which the Golden Knights had their best stretch of hockey to that point.
The great push led to another call on the Canadiens as Alec Martinez was hooked very slightly in the slot. After the Knights called a timeout with 55 seconds remaining on the power play, Alex Pietrangelo hit the post before the Knights missed two rebound opportunities.
Seconds after the penalty expired, Nick Suzuki fed a great breakout pass to Paul Byron, who walked in alone on Lehner and slotted it over his blocker to break the tie with just 1:05 remaining in the period.
PAUL BYRON BREAKS THE ICE!#GoHabsGo strike first in Game 4. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/dsQCu4d3bp— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 21, 2021
It continued to spiral as Martinez was whistled for interference, and as the horn sounded, things boiled over between the two teams.
The Golden Knights killed off the carry-over time from the Martinez penalty early in the third and finally started to play with desperation in the offensive end.
The Habs pushed back and had excellent counter-attack opportunities, which Lehner handled. In particular, his save on a Cole Caufield breakaway was a turning point in the contest. But Lehner was able to keep the Knights one shot away.
That shot came soon after, as Brayden McNabb threw the puck towards the net off a feed from William Karlsson, and the puck snuck through Carey Price to tie the game at 10:37 of the third.
THE KNIGHTS ARE ON THE BOARD!— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 21, 2021
This game is TIED in the final 10 minutes. #VegasBorn | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/LsmeuvkSPO
Lehner continued to be huge, turning away more great scoring chances down the stretch.
The Knights had a strong push in the final minute of regulation, but both teams seemed content to go to overtime for the second game in a row.
It was all Golden Knights early in the overtime period, and they capitalized quickly.
Max Pacioretty made a strong play to get the puck on net, creating a rebound for Nic Roy, who had gone to the crease. Price stopped the initial rebound, but Roy worked to create space and time and got Price completely out of position before feathering the puck over Price and into the empty net to win the game and save Vegas’ season.
THE OVERTIME WINNER FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS IN GAME 4. #VegasBorn | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/B0hvhziTLj— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 21, 2021
The goal came just 1:18 into extra time to stun the Canadiens and tie the series at 2-2.
The Golden Knights completely stole this game, as they were outplayed in almost every facet of the game. But a strong performance by Lehner and a few clutch plays helped them even things up and re-claim home-ice advantage.
The series has shrunk to a best-of-three, and the Golden Knights head back home for a pivotal Game 5 on Tuesday.