Artturi Lehkonen scored in overtime and the Montreal Canadiens punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993 with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.
Montreal won the best-of-seven semifinal series in six games, becoming the first Canadian team to reach the finals since the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.
After a clutch OT save by goalie Carey Price, Lehkonen joined a rush up ice and converted a pass from Phillip Danault for his first goal of the series 99 seconds into the extra period.
Shea Weber and Cole Caufield also scored in the win. Price made 37 saves for the Canadiens, who went into the playoffs with the lowest point total of the 16 teams.
Reilly Smith and Alec Martinez replied for the Golden Knights, who finished tied atop the league standings in the regular season. Robin Lehner stopped 29 shots in the loss.
Go Habs Go as they reach Final after 28 years
The Canadiens — who have been without head coach Dominique Ducharme on their bench after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week — will face either Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders, who meet in Game 7 of their semifinal series on Friday.
Weber’s power-play goal opened the scoring at the 14:06 mark of the first period. Martinez’s stick broke as he tried to clear the puck, sending it right to Weber, and the Montreal captain unloaded a rocket from the top of the left circle for his first goal of the playoffs.
“I’m definitely proud of everybody in that locker room and what we’ve accomplished so far, but there’s still work to be done,” Weber said.NHL.com
Smith evened the score 48 seconds later when he gained the puck during a scrum, sent it to the point and then deflected Shea Theodore’s shot to snap a nine-game goal drought.
Caufield put the Canadiens ahead a second time just before the midway point of the second period. He gained a step on defender Brayden McNabb and lifted a shot from in tight to net his fourth goal of the series.
Martinez cashed in a rebound from the doorstep just 68 seconds into the third period, pulling the visitors even with his fourth goal of the playoffs.
The Canadiens have won five of six games that have gone to overtime during the postseason.
“I’m excited for those that were lucky enough to be in the building (3,500),” Price said. “Everybody in the city’s obviously ecstatic. It’s a fun time to be in Montreal right now.”NHL.com
–Field Level Media