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The Vegas Golden Knights are heavy favorites against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Semifinals, but the Canadiens have excelled as underdogs and know the blueprint to defeating the Golden Knights.
“I always personally like to prove people wrong,” Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme said. “When people think that we cannot do something, it’s always nice to … it’s another layer where you can gain energy or another challenge.”
This is a mismatch in many ways.
The Golden Knights led the NHL in wins (40) and goal differential (plus-67) during the regular season, tying for the lead in points (82) with the Colorado Avalanche. This is Vegas’ third trip to the the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four seasons.
The Canadiens had the fewest wins (24) and points (59) and worst goal differential (minus-9) during the regular season among the 16 playoff teams. This is Montreal’s first trip past the second round since 2014.
At the same time, these teams have a lot in common.
“Montreal’s been very good throughout these playoffs, and they’ll be another big challenge for us,” Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said.
Vegas and Montreal each survived a seven-game series in the first round. The Golden Knights defeated the Minnesota Wild after leading 3-1; the Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs after trailing 3-1.
Each built confidence in the second round. Vegas defeated Colorado in six games, and Montreal swept the Winnipeg Jets.