Just as everyone predicted (not), the Montreal Canadiens can punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993 with a win on home ice in Game 6. The Vegas Golden Knights were the biggest semifinal favorites in 31 years (-460), but find themselves down 3-2 in the series as it shifts to Montreal. Puck drop between the Canadiens and Golden Knights is set for Thursday at 6 p.m.
Below you’ll see a breakdown of the game, including a pick and a couple of shot props to consider.
Vegas Golden Knights -139 (BETMGM) at Montreal Canadiens +125 (Pointsbet) - 5
The Canadiens are home dogs for the third time in this series and the seventh time in the playoffs despite a convincing 4-1 win in Vegas on Tuesday. Montreal improved to 10-0 in the playoffs when it has scored at least two goals. Carey Price turned aside 26 of 27 shots to improve his save percentage to .933 (third best) and goals-against average to 2.02 (first among remaining goalies). Price was strong in Game 5. He’s allowed two or fewer goals in four straight games, but teammates deserve credit as well.
Montreal and Vegas split the two games at the Bell Centre, but the Habs heavily outplayed the Golden Knights in Game 4, especially at 5v5. Montreal outshot Vegas 26-17 and had 17 high-danger chances while Vegas could only muster two. One of Vegas’ high-danger chances resulted in the overtime winner, but Montreal came away feeling pretty good about its game, as it had the strongest 5v5 team in the league on their heels most of the game. If anything, it gave Montreal confidence heading into Game 5.
The Canadiens carried that same level of play into Game 5, as they held the edge in shots and high-danger chances through the first two periods en route to a 3-0 lead. Vegas had a strong third, but Montreal continued to keep most of the Golden Knights’ offense to the outside. In fact, Vegas only has goals from three forwards in the series. Max Pacioretty scored his first in Game 5, Mattias Janmark had one off a fortunate bounce in Game 1, and Nicolas Roy scored the other two goals. Seven of the 11 goals have come from the blue line. Mark Stone has yet to register a point and leads all Vegas forwards in ice time (101:36).
Again, let’s give credit to the Canadiens. They held Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner to one goal in seven games in Round 1. Those two combined for 61 goals during the regular season. Meanwhile, Montreal has 12 goals from eight forwards, including three from rookie Cole Caufield. The winger has four points and a series-best 2.1 expected goal rate. His line with Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli combined for two goals and six points in Game 5.
Montreal has a league-best 93.2 PK%, which is the best percentage in playoff history. They’re a perfect 13 for 13 in this round and they’ve killed 30 straight penalties dating to Round 1. They’ve scored more short-handed goals (four) than power-play goals allowed (three).
Price is the backbone, and he has been for a while now. The Habs’ netminder has won 21 straight playoff games when his team scores at least three goals. In fact, he’s only lost once in his last 28 playoff games when the Habs scored three goals.
The Canadiens have looked extremely impressive as they continue to overcome the odds. Logic may say to lean with the favorites in a must-win situation, but Montreal’s been the stronger team over the past two games and it is checking in at +125.
There’s value in taking them on the money line. If you want to play it conservative, you can get Montreal +1.5 and the under 5 at +209 (BET MGM). There have been five goals or fewer in all five games. An alternate line of 5.5 -155 is at DraftKings.
I also have a few shot props to consider. Suzuki has at least two shots on goal every game in this series, Pacioretty has cleared 2.5 in three straight games (18 total), and Pietrangelo leads this series as well as the playoffs in shots and shot attempts.
Prediction: 3-2 Montreal
Best Bet: Under 5
Props: Max Pacioretty O 2.5 SOG; Nick Suzuki O 1.5 SOG; Alex Pietrangelo O 3 SOG