The Stanley Cup Semifinals are upon us as the 2021 NHL Playoffs have moved into the final four. This year’s playoffs feature a different structure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top four teams in each division earned a playoff berth and then played two rounds of divisional series. The third round features one team from each division and the bracket is re-seeded, regardless of traditional conference. The No. 1 seed Vegas Golden Knights will face the No. 4 seed Montreal Canadiens and the No. 2 seed Tampa Bay Lightning will face the No. 3 seed New York Islanders.
The Canadiens-Golden Knights series is an unusual one due to COVID-19. Given the structure of realignment, the semifinals feature three teams traditionally based in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, Montreal and Vegas have not played against each other since January of 2020. They did not face off in the bubble last year and divisional play meant they did not play this year during the regular season. In fact, Montreal and Vegas have played each other six times in total since the Golden Knights joined the NHL in 2017, which is the fewest games Montreal has played against a current NHL team.
Dating back to 1942 and the start of the Original Six, Montreal has made an appearance in some version of the Stanley Cup semifinals 40 different times. This year marks No. 41 and their first since losing to the Rangers in six games in the 2014 playoffs. Montreal finished the 2021 regular season in fourth place in the North division with a record of 24-21-11 and 59 points.
This marks the Golden Knights third trip to the semifinal round in four years of franchise existence. They advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural 2017-18 campaign and lost in the Conference Finals last year, in five to the Stars. Vegas finished the 2021 regular season in second place in the West division with a 40-14-2 record and 82 points. They tied Colorado for the best record but lost the tiebreaker for the Presidents’ Trophy.
The Golden Knights are -400 favorites to win the series at DraftKings Sportsbook while the Canadiens are +315 underdogs. All four Golden Knights series win combinations top the odds sheet, with Vegas in five the favorite at +275. The best odds for a Canadiens series win are +900 for Montreal in seven.
Below is a full rundown of the Canadiens-Golden Knights series and how to watch it. The games are all available at NBCSports.com/live. All times listed are ET.
Canadiens vs. Golden Knights series info (MTL leads 3-2)
Game 1: Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 1
Game 2: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2
Game 3: Canadiens 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 4: Golden Knights 2, Canadiens 1
Game 5: Canadiens 4, Golden Knights 1
Game 6: Golden Knights @ Canadiens: Thursday, June 24, 8 p.m. ET, USA
Game 7 (if necessary): Canadiens @ Golden Knights: Saturday, June 26, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN