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Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning targeting Stanley Cup Finals showdown

The Stanley Cup Conference semi-finals have provided some rip-roaring action over the past week. But who will reach the Finals? We will look ahead to what could be the decisive Game 7 of the two Conference semi-finals this weekend, which sees Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders, and the Vegas Golden Knights v Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal Canadiens surge to emphatic win in Game 5 over Golden Knights

The Montreal Canadiens will feel that they are in touching distance of the Stanley Cup Finals. A resounding 4-1 victory in Game 5 earlier this week left them on the brink of a 35th visit to the Big Dance. Carey Price produced a stunning display between the sticks, as he repelled 26 of the 27 shots he faced.

Eric Staal was instrumental in the Canadiens victory, while Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cole Caufield, and former Golden Knight star Nick Suzuki also got on the scoresheet. The win was the Canadiens’ 11th in the playoffs this term, and it marks the most for the franchise since their 1993 triumph when they last hoisted the Stanley Cup aloft.

Montreal Canadiens winning mindset keeping them on the right track

Winning breeds confidence. The Canadiens put on a masterclass as they trounced the Golden Knights in Game 5. The mindset has been positive throughout the postseason, even when they looked beaten against the Toronto Mapleleafs in the first round. And Staal is adamant the Canadiens never shy away from a challenge. He said: “We have the opportunity to be difference makers for our team.”

Puck pressure key to Montreal Canadiens success against Vegas Golden Knights

Forcing turnovers has been key to the Canadiens success against the Vegas Golden Knights in this series. Jeff Petry and Jon Merrill were particularly effective in engineering a turnover to push the puck into transition, and this didn’t go unnoticed by Suzuki. He said: “We had great sticks, and turning a lot of pucks over in the neutral zone.”

Golden Knights need to ‘sharpen execution’ against Montreal Canadiens

In Game 5 against the Canadiens, the Golden Knights squandered a whole host of chances. Of the 11 goals, the Knights have scored in the series with the Canadiens, only four of them have been scored by the forwards. Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer lamented his side’s lack of ruthlessness. He said: “We weren’t sharp in our execution, and it cost us.”

Tampa Bay Lightning enjoy blowout victory against New York Islanders

Lightning were quite simply electrifying as they steamrolled the Islanders 8-0 to move 3-2 ahead in the series. From the first minute of the contest, Lightning took a stranglehold on the game, and they were simply unstoppable. After 15 minutes, Lightning were 3-0 up, and by the second period, they were 6-0 to the good.

The 8-0 victory marked just the second time in the past 48 years that a side had won a Stanley Cup game by a margin of eight goals or more. Lightning are the reigning champions, and judging by their performance during the power play, they could well defend their title.

Despite the resounding scoreline, Lightning isn’t prepared to get ahead of themselves just yet. When asked for his thoughts on the victory, Steven Stamkos said: “That’s how the hockey gods work. You play great, you earn your bounces.” Lightning reached ice hockey nirvana with that display, and it will be very difficult trying to replicate that performance again in the series.

New York Islanders have to find a way out of dark hole

Everything that could have gone wrong in Game 5 against Lightning did so for the New York Islanders. Semyon Varlamov was hooked off for rookie Ilya Sorokin after his goal was besieged. The Islanders struggled to manage the puck well, allowing them to be dominated by Lightning, who are so good in transition.

Barry Trotz, in particular, was disconsolate after the defeat. It was a bitter pill for the Islanders coach to swallow, as his side were well off the pace. In providing his thoughts after the Game 5 loss, Trotz didn’t mince his words. He said: “We’ve just gotta man up.” Whether the Islanders can take the series to Game 7 remains to be seen.

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