National Hockey League
Montreal 3, Vegas 2
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, June 24, 2021
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
Referees: Eric Furlatt, Kelly Sutherland
Linesmen: David Brisebois, Jonny Murray
Attendance: 3500

The Montreal Canadiens have authored a trio of upsets already in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but don't for a second believe they are content to bask in that achievement.

After clinching their semifinal series over the visiting Vegas Golden Knights with a 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday in Game 6, the Canadiens -- who posted the lowest point total among the 16 squads that reached the playoffs -- know their job is not complete.

"We've been believing this whole time," Montreal goaltender Carey Price said. "Obviously, we're ecstatic and we have a lot of work to do.

"It's been a big progression. That first round (against the Toronto Maple Leafs), we started to click when we got down, but after we won that first game, we felt like we were playing solid hockey, and like any playoff story, it's a progression, luck and hard work."

Montreal, the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, will face the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Islanders series, which will be decided in Game 7 on Friday.

Either the Lightning or Islanders will host the first two games of the final series, which will begin on Monday.

As will be the case in all three of their previous series, the Canadiens -- who have been without head coach Dominique Ducharme on their bench after he tested positive for COVID-19 last week -- will be the underdogs. However, they've earned their right to battle for the franchise's first championship since 1993 -- which also happens to be the last time they made it to the finals.

They punched their ticket when Artturi Lehkonen scored his first goal of the series 99 seconds into the extra period and clinched the best-of-seven series.

"I'm not going to lie. It's a pretty good feeling," Lehkonen told Sportsnet after he netted his first career overtime playoff goal. "It's a big win for us, and we've got four more to go."

Shea Weber and Cole Caufield also scored in the win, while Price made 37 saves for Montreal, which has a 5-1 record in overtime games this postseason.

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.

The Golden Knights, who reached the 2018 finals in their first year of existence, have been eliminated in the semifinals each of the past two seasons.

"It's a pretty empty feeling right now," Lehner said. "Any time you lose in the playoffs and your season is over, it's pretty hard to take in.

"We're a hard-working group. I'm proud of everyone in there. We're right there knocking on the door. ... It sucks that we couldn't get over the hump."

Price and Montreal's commitment to team defense were huge factors in quashing those hopes.

While the Canadiens enjoyed offensive success by counterattacking, the Golden Knights couldn't get on track offensively. The Vegas power play was blanked in the series, and most of the Golden Knights' star forwards were unable to convert the few chances they generated.

"It's a pretty terrible feeling," said Vegas' Mark Stone, who was second on the team in goal-scoring in the regular season but was blanked by the Canadiens. "I got skunked this series. That can't happen. I'm the captain of this team, the leader of this team. I take a lot of responsibility for what occurred."

--Field Level Media

Top Game Performances
Vegas   Montreal
William Karlsson 2 Points Cole Caufield 1
Alec Martinez 1 Goals Cole Caufield 1
William Karlsson 2 Assists Phillip Danault 1
N/A Power Play Goals Shea Weber 1
N/A Short Handed Goals N/A
Robin Lehner .906 Save Percentage Carey Price .949
Robin Lehner 29 Saves Carey Price 37
Team Stats Summary
Team Shots Goals Power Play Penalty Kill Penalty Mins Face Offs Won
Vegas 39 2 0-2 2-3 6 35
Montreal 32 3 1-3 2-2 4 31