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Golden Knights-Montreal Canadiens NHL semifinal preview

Series schedule

Game 1 — 6 p.m. Monday, T-Mobile Arena, NBCSN

Game 2 — 6 p.m. Wednesday, T-Mobile Arena, NBCSN

Game 3 — 5 p.m. Friday, Bell Centre, USA

Game 4 — 5 p.m. Sunday, Bell Centre, NBCSN

Game 5 — 6 p.m. June 22, T-Mobile Arena, NBCSN*

Game 6 — 5 p.m. June 24, Bell Centre, USA*

Game 7 — 5 p.m. June 26, T-Mobile Arena, NBCSN*

* If necessary

Key matchup

Top line vs. top line.

The Golden Knights’ group of left wing Max Pacioretty, center Chandler Stephenson and right wing Mark Stone has outscored opponents 5-2 at five-on-five this postseason despite drawing difficult matchups. They will get tested again against Montreal’s defensive unit of left wing Artturi Lehkonen, center Phillip Danault and right wing Brendan Gallagher.

Danault’s line doesn’t pile up a lot of points — Gallagher leads the three with four in the playoffs — but it excels at shutting down the opposition. Danault and Gallagher haven’t given up a five-on-five goal this postseason in 106:48 of ice time together.

Expect Montreal coach Dominique Ducharme to seek out this matchup at home. And look for Knights coach Pete DeBoer to avoid it at T-Mobile Arena, much as he did in the first round with Minnesota center Joel Eriksson Ek’s line.

Key stats

437:53 — The amount of time since the Canadiens last trailed. Montreal has yet to fall behind during its seven-game winning streak.

16 — The number of Knights players with a goal this postseason, most among playoff teams. Twenty of the 23 skaters the Knights have used have recorded at least a point.

.935 — Canadiens goaltender Carey Price’s save percentage, which leads the NHL this postseason.

1.91 — Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s goals-against average, which ranks second in the playoffs behind Toronto’s Jack Campbell.

Knights quotable

“I compare it a little bit to Minnesota when you look at the quality of those top four defensemen that Montreal have. … And then I think real good balance up front from the forward group. Confidence. Speed. Well coached by Dominique Ducharme. And those are things that I think we’ll need to deal with.” — Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon

Habs quotable

“We expect it to be a hotly contested series. … The further you advance, the greater the challenge. We’ll be ready for the challenge.” — Ducharme

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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