Suzuki’s big night pushes Habs close to finals

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Montreal’s decision to trade Max Pacioretty to Vegas had to be painful on some level. They were giving up their captain who already had five 30 or more goal seasons on his resume. They have to be happy with the results of that trade though.

Pacioretty has been everything the Golden Knights hoped for, but even still what Vegas gave up proved to be significant. Tomas Tatar has been a solid contributor with Montreal and more importantly, Nick Suzuki is one of the game’s fastest rising stars. Suzuki is one of the main reasons the Canadiens made it to the semifinals and he played a key role in Montreal’s 4-1 victory over Vegas in Game 5 last night.

Suzuki scored a goal and registered two assists, giving him five goals and 13 points in 16 postseason games. He’s in second place in Montreal’s playoff scoring race and just one point behind Tyler Toffoli.

Pacioretty wasn’t quiet either last night. He provided Vegas’ only goal, but it came in the third period after Montreal had already found the back of the net three times. The marker ultimately proved to be too little, too late.

This victory has pushed Montreal within one win of the Stanley Cup Final. While Vegas entered this series as the perceived favorites, Montreal has shown time and again that they can not only play with Vegas, they can outplay Vegas.

That said, the Canadiens know they can’t afford to let up now. They’ll be facing a desperate Vegas team in Game 6 on Thursday and one with experience with tough situations after beating Minnesota in seven games in the first round and overcoming a 2-0 series deficit against Colorado in the second round.

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MONTREAL 4 VEGAS 1 (Canadiens lead series 3-2)

As noted above, Nick Suzuki was the Canadiens’ top forward with a goal and two assists. He’s up to 13 points in 16 playoff games, including five points in his last three contests.

Eric Staal scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. It was his second goal and eighth point in 15 postseason games.

Tyler Toffoli assisted on two of Montreal’s four goals. He has five goals and 14 points in 16 contests in the 2021 playoffs.

Carey Price saved 26 of 27 Golden Knights shots. He improved to 11-5 with a 2.02 GAA and .933 save percentage in 16 playoff starts.

Max Pacioretty was the only player to beat Price. Pacioretty has five goals and 11 points in 12 postseason contests.

Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 22 of 25 shots last night. He was kept out of Game 4 so that he could rest and despite Robin Lehner doing well in that contest, Fleury was ultimately put back in the net for Game 5. Given that Vegas ultimately lost this game and are now on the brink of elimination, it will be interesting to see if Fleury or Lehner start in Game 6.