LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Semifinals at T-Mobile Arena on Monday.
Shea Theodore had a goal and an assist for the Golden Knights, who have won five straight games since losing the first two in the Stanley Cup Second Round against the Colorado Avalanche. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves.
"They came out strong. We didn't play well in the first 10-15 minutes," Vegas captain Mark Stone said. "'Flower' made a couple of big saves to ease the tension for us."
Rookie Cole Caufield scored his first Stanley Cup Playoff goal, and Carey Price made 26 saves for the Canadiens. The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for Montreal that began with Game 5 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 27.
"For everyone, right now at this stage, you're playing a team you haven't played all year," Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. "They have their strengths, but we have ours also."
Video: MTL@VGK, Gm1: Price acts nonchalant after a big save
It was the first game in the United States for the Canadiens since March 7, 2020 (464 days). The Canada government on June 6 announced its decision to allow NHL teams to cross the United States-Canada border for games beginning with the semifinals under a modified quarantine for the coronavirus.
The Canadiens played this season in the Scotia North Division, facing only the six other Canada-based teams through the Stanley Cup Second Round. They allowed 2,500 fans for the past three games at Bell Centre in Montreal after none were permitted in the regular season and for the start of the playoffs, and there were 500 in attendance for Games 1 and 2 of the second round at the Winnipeg Jets.
"We were excited to play in front of a full barn again," Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "It was fun, and we'll be better next game."
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is here Wednesday.
Theodore gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead at 9:15 of the first period on a one-timer from the point. It was the defenseman's first goal of the playoffs.
It was the first time Montreal trailed since the start of its winning streak. The stretch of 447:08 is the second-longest in NHL postseason history, behind the 1960 Canadiens (488:38).
"We talked in our prescout meetings that they would be uncomfortable in their structure playing from behind," Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. "No one made them play from behind for a while. The goal was huge and at the right time with how we were playing."
Alec Martinez made it 2-0 at 2:18 of the second period on a one-timer from the right face-off circle. Theodore faked a shot from the slot, bringing Price out of the crease, before passing to the defenseman for his third goal.
Video: MTL@VGK, Gm1: Martinez doubles the lead in the 2nd
Caufield cut it to 2-1 on the power play at 12:05. Fleury made the save on Tyler Toffoli's shot from the slot, but Caufield scored into an open net on the rebound.
Mattias Janmark scored 53 seconds later to make it 3-1 at 12:58 when he tipped Alex Tuch's shot after it deflected off the skate of Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov.
"I think we had our chances to get back in the game," Caufield said. "It was tight there for a while. We got it back to 2-1 and just some bad bounces. There are things we can get better at and work on. We'll be ready for Wednesday."
Video: MTL@VGK, Gm1: Reaction to Caufield's 1st playoff goal
Defenseman Nick Holden made it 4-1 at 10:06 of the third period when he scored off a cross-ice pass from Reilly Smith.
Vegas became the second team to have three defensemen score a goal in one game in the third round of the NHL playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins did it in Game 5 of the 1991 Wales Conference Final.
"To get deeper in the playoffs, you need scoring from everyone," Holden said. "If you get guys contributing that aren't your big guns, you're going to win games."
NOTES: Teams that take a 1-0 lead are 108-50 (.684) winning a best-of-7 NHL semifinal series. … Defensemen have scored eight goals for the Golden Knights in the playoffs to lead the NHL. … Holden is the first Vegas defenseman to score in consecutive postseason games. … The Golden Knights have won five consecutive home games. … Toffoli extended his point streak to seven games (four goals, five assists), the longest in the postseason for the Canadiens since Saku Koivu in 2008, also seven games. … Price allowed four goals in a game for the first time since a 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Game 2 of the first round May 22.
Video: Defensemen carry Golden Knights past Canadiens, 4-1