PREVIEW: Golden Knights return to ‘The Fortress’ for pivotal Game 5 vs Canadiens

Jun 20, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Vegas Golden Knights celebrate their win against Montreal Canadiens during an overtime period in game four of the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, the Vegas Golden Knights embarked on a road trip across the border for Games 3 and 4 of this semi-finals series against the Montreal Canadiens. They split those two games and now return home with the series tied at two games each. With this series now reduced to a best-of-three, the Golden Knights must take advantage of the fact that two of the remaining games will be on the home ice at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.

Even though they lost Game 2 of this series while at home, the Golden Knights did a good job defending home ice. The atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena – a.k.a “The Fortress” – has been electric as always and the fans have made it clear that they are excited to be back in the building. With winning out at home and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Golden Knights have set themselves up for success.

However, it won’t be an easy pathway to the finals. The Canadiens outplayed the Golden Knights in Game 4 only to be met with big save after big save from Robin Lehner. It was a pathetic offensive performance by the Golden Knights who were bailed out by strong goaltending and a few timely goals. Finding a way to create more consistent offensive pressure will be key for the next few games.

So far through this series, the 2020-21 Selke Trophy finalist has played 82:04 and has recorded zero points. Not even a single assist through almost 90 minutes of ice-time. It’s been a very quiet series for the captain as he has struggled against the solid Canadiens’ defense.

VGK captain Mark Stone continues to struggle

The winner of tonight’s game will be afforded two chances at finishing the job, a valuable opportunity in a series that has been as closely contested as this one. A loss for the Golden Knights tonight would mean a must-win Game 6 in Montreal, a scenario that they would want to avoid.

Morning skate clues

The Golden Knights morning skate offered some clues as to what the lineup could look like tonight. Chandler Stephenson was out there skating for the first time since he’s been out of the lineup. Stephenson’s injury has left a massive hole in the first line that has hurt the Golden Knights depth at forward. He’s a game-time decision, but if he returns, that would be a huge boon for the Golden Knights.

Marc-Andre Fleury was off the ice before Robin Lehner, a sign that most likely means that Fleury is getting the nod tonight. Head coach Peter DeBoer made the gutsy decision to have Lehner start last game and it was one that he was rewarded for as Lehner was a major reason for the crucial victory.

Now he has another tough choice as he has to decide what he will do moving forward. The good news is that both goalies have been good and both options will likely result in a catastrophic disaster. Still, the pressure is on DeBoer to make the right selection.

Golden Knights Mark Stone silenced thus far

Ever since he arrived from the Ottawa Senators, Mark Stone has been one of the most effective players in the league. He plays a smart game and uses his Hockey IQ to move around the ice, often outsmarting opponents on his way to scoring plenty of goals.

So far through this series, the 2020-21 Selke Trophy finalist has played 82:04 and has recorded zero points. Not even a single assist through almost 90 minutes of ice-time. It’s been a very quiet series for the captain as he has struggled against the solid Canadiens’ defense.

Stone is a competitive player, just take a look at his celebrations every time he scores, and he won’t stay quiet for much longer. If Stephenson returns to the lineup tonight, that could be the missing puzzle piece that gets Stone going and allows the Golden Knights to finally break out of their slump.

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