The Montreal Canadiens can punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 28 years with a win on Thursday night when they battle the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of their semifinal series as +125 home underdogs on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Montreal turned in arguably its finest performance of this year's playoffs in Game 5, taking home a 4-1 victory that gives the team a 3-2 series lead heading into Thursday night's matchup at the Bell Centre.
With Tuesday's win, the Canadiens have now claimed victory in each of the 10 games in which they have scored at least two goals during this year's playoffs. Now riding a steady 10-2 run, during which they have avoided consecutive defeats, the Canadiens have emerged as favourites to eliminate Vegas for the first time in this series, sporting short -170 odds on the NHL playoff series prices.
And set as longshots on the Stanley Cup odds in the wake of their overtime loss in Game 4, the Canadiens have also made major gains on the NHL futures and now sit at +325 to raise the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1993.
Steady play on home ice in front of an increasing number of fans has been key to Montreal's success. The team has claimed victory in four of its past five contests at the Bell Centre, allowing just nine total goals against during that stretch. And while the Canadiens came up short at home last time out, dropping a 2-1 decision that also marked the team's first loss in overtime so far in the post-season, they hold an historical advantage over Vegas, earning the win in four of five all-time home matchups.
Now facing elimination for the second time in this year's playoffs, the Golden Knights look to Game 6 as diminished -145 road favourites at online betting sites. Stymied by the Canadiens' ferocious defensive play, the Golden Knights attack has been effectively contained during this series. Vegas has mustered just seven total goals over the past four games, extending a worrisome trend that has seen the team score just 10 total goals while losing four of its past six road games.
Things get no easier as they return to a city that is expected to be in a festive mood. Montreal will be joining the rest of Quebec in celebrating Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, the province's national holiday, which is likely to add to the enthusiasm of the small but likely vocal contingent of fans expected to be on hand at the Bell Centre.