Canadiens top Knights to close in on Final berth

Carey Price made 26 saves and Nick Suzuki registered a goal and two assists as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 Tuesday night in Las Vegas to move within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup final.

The Canadiens hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven semifinal series. Game 6 will be played Thursday in Montreal.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Eric Staal and Cole Caufield also scored goals and Tyler Toffoli added two assists for the Canadiens. Montreal is looking for its first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 1993, when it defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

Max Pacioretty scored a goal and Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 22 saves for Vegas.

Montreal’s tight checking held Vegas to just six first-period shots, and the Canadiens grabbed a 1-0 lead on Kotkaniemi’s fifth goal of the playoffs at the 8:45 mark. Kotkaniemi set up the score with a stretch pass to Josh Anderson, who broke past Zach Whitecloud and fired a backhand shot on which Fleury made a pad save. However, the puck bounced out to the right side of the crease, where Kotkaniemi scooped it up and backhanded it into a wide-open net.

Vegas had a chance to tie later in the period, but Mark Stone, who entered the contest without a point in the past five games, shot a point-blank shot wide of the net.

Fleury stopped Paul Byron on a breakaway early in the second period but Staal made it 2-0 a couple minutes later with his second goal of the playoffs. Suzuki set up the score with a spinning cross-ice pass from the left wall to Staal, who had just hopped on during a line change, in the high slot. Staal then fired a wrist shot past Fleury’s glove side at 6:32.

Montreal increased its lead to 3-0 midway through the period with a power-play goal by Caufield. He took a crossing pass from Corey Perry following a turnover by Stone and then one-timed a shot from the slot past Fleury’s glove side for his third goal of the series.

Vegas cut the deficit to 3-1 at the 4:09 mark in the third period on Pacioretty’s fifth goal of the playoffs. Pacioretty fanned on his first try from the edge of the right circle, but his second attempt beat Price on his stick side.

The Golden Knights pulled Fleury for an extra attacker with 2:55 to go. Suzuki, taking a bank pass off the boards from Toffoli, sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 1:06 left.