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Knights rally for overtime victory to even series with Canadiens at two-all

Vegas Golden Knights' Nicolas Roy (right) celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens with teammate Max Pacioretty in overtime of Game 4.
Vegas Golden Knights' Nicolas Roy (right) celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens with teammate Max Pacioretty in overtime of Game 4.Graham Hughes/Associated Press

Nicolas Roy converted his own rebound 1:18 into overtime and the Vegas Golden Knights rallied to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadien on Sunday night, tying the Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series at 2-all.

Robin Lehner got the start in place of Marc-Andre Fleury and stopped 27 shots, and Brayden McNabb also scored for Vegas. The Golden Knights turned the tables in Game 4 by rallying from a one-goal deficit two days after blowing two one-goal leads in a 3-2 overtime loss.

Game 5 is Tuesday night at Vegas.

Paul Byron scored on a breakaway with 1:05 left in the second period, and Carey Price stopped 17 shots. Montreal had won its previous four overtime games this postseason, and five straight dating to a 3-2 win against Pittsburgh in a preliminary round series last summer.

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Former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty — the target of a booing Montreal crowd — played a key role in setting up the decisive score. Pacioretty got a shot off by spinning around in the left circle, only to be stopped by Price.

The rebound went directly to Roy in front. Price kicked out his left pad to stop Roy’s initial attempt, but was unable to control the rebound and made a lunging attempt as Roy lifted the shot over the goalie.

Vegas coach Peter DeBoer’s decision to start Lehner paid off. The goalie rebounded after allowing seven goals on 37 shots in a second-round series-opening 7-1 loss to Colorado on May 30.

He replaced Fleury, who is 9-6 this postseason and coming off a game in which he made a critical flub by misplaying the puck along the end boards and allowing Josh Anderson to score the tying goal with 1:55 left in Game 3 on Friday. Fleury referred to his mistake a “screwup” on Saturday, and said he was focused on looking forward.

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The Golden Knights announced before the game that general manager Kelly McCrimmon was placed in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. The team provided no other update, except to say McCrimmon is following NHL and local health protocols.

On Friday, TV cameras showed the 60-year-old McCrimmon not wearing a mask while watching Game 3 from a suite alongside team president George McPhee.

The Canadiens played their second game minus interim coach Dominique Ducharme, who was placed in self-isolation after testing positive before Game 3 on Friday. Ducharme said he remains symptom-free and hopes to return before the series ends.

Dominique Ducharme said Sunday he's remained symptom-free two days after testing positive for COVID-19.
Dominique Ducharme said Sunday he's remained symptom-free two days after testing positive for COVID-19.Ryan Remiorz/Associated Press

Ducharme said he is fully vaccinated for the coronavirus and will clear the 2-week waiting period following his second shot on Wednesday.

It’s unclear whether the 48-year-old Ducharme will be able to return at that point.

Masters of the bounce-back

No team has been more resilient in the NHL playoffs than the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The reigning Stanley Cup champions are 12-0 in games following a postseason loss since the start of their title run last year. That ability to bounce back is about to be tested again by the New York Islanders.

With the semifinal series between the teams tied at two games apiece, playoff veterans Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman are confident the Lightning will respond with a strong performance in Game 5 at Amalie Arena on Monday night.

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New York has already exhibited some fortitude of its own, rebounding from losing Games 2 and 3 to even the best-of-seven series with a 3-2 victory on Saturday. The Islanders also erased series deficits by winning Game 4s the previous two rounds.

“Now it’s the best of three. You have to look ahead, you have to move forward,” Johnson said after the Islanders scored three second-period goals, then held off a furious Tampa Bay comeback to avoid moving to the brink of elimination.

“We have to learn from our mistakes and play well a full 60 minutes,” said Johnson, who had a third-period goal Saturday. “We got the home ice back. We’ve got to use it to our advantage.”

What will the rest of the postseason hold for Tyler Johnson and the Lightning.
What will the rest of the postseason hold for Tyler Johnson and the Lightning.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Game 6 is Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Florida on Friday.

“This is what we expected, 2-2 going back’' to Tampa for Game 5, Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Best of three now.”

The Lightning, in the NHL’s final four for the fifth time in seven years, look to build on a response that began after New York scored three times in the second period to build a 3-0 lead on Saturday night.

Johnson and Brayden Point scored in the third for Tampa Bay, and Ryan McDonagh was denied a potential overtime-forcing goal in the closing seconds when Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock made a diving, game-saving stop.

The defending champs haven’t lost consecutive playoff games since being swept by Columbus in the first round in 2019. They’ve won six straight postseason series and haven’t been pushed beyond six games in any of them, including a 4-2 victory over the Islanders in last year’s Eastern Conference final.

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Will Barry Trotz and the Islanders continue their playoff push?
Will Barry Trotz and the Islanders continue their playoff push?Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

This year’s series has a distinctively different feel for New York, which won Game 1 on the road and is deadlocked through four games after trailing Tampa Bay the entirety of the 2020 semifinals played in the NHL bubble in Edmonton, Alberta.

“We’re just going to stay the course. ... We’re only halfway home,” said Islanders forward Matt Martin, whose second-period goal was the difference in Game 4.

“There’s still a long way. We’ve got to stay focused,” Martin added. “We’re a mature group. We’ve got to keep playing the way we’re playing, stick to our identity and that’s going to give ourselves a chance to win the series.”

The Lightning have plenty of experience, too. And they’ve proven they know how to lean on it when challenged.

Since the start of last year’s championship run, Tampa Bay has only faced one series deficit — after losing the opening game of this series at home.

“Guys have been in these situations before. They know what’s at stake. You kind of focus game by game. We don’t focus on the series itself,” forward Pat Maroon said.

“We focus on the task at hand, and the job at hand, at that moment,” added Maroon, a two-time Stanley Cup champ who also won with the St. Louis Blues two years ago. “Guys do a good job. Adjustments are made, and the players kind of buckle up when they need to, and play the right way when they need to.”

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