The Golden Knights remain undefeated in postseason action after locking up an epic 2-1 double overtime win in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series against the Kings.
Erik Haula scored the biggest goal of the Knights’ season, beating Jonathan Quick at 15:23 of double overtime for the game-winner.
ERIK HAULA WINS IT 15:22 INTO DOUBLE OVERTIME. pic.twitter.com/rt4HCFoAXu— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 14, 2018
It’s a crucial win for the Knights, who, in the end, took advantage of a Kings lineup that was without superstar defenseman Drew Doughty, who received a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of William Carrier in Game 1.
However, it certainly wasn’t easy.
Once again, goals were few and far between, with both goaltenders putting on a clinic.
For the second game in a row, the Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period, scoring their first postseason power-play goal in franchise history. Jonathan Marchessault sent a point shot off the back boards, which took a favorable bounce and landed right on the stick of the wide-open Alex Tuch, who slammed it in past Quick to give Vegas the lead at 14:47 of the first. It was the first postseason goal of Tuch’s career.
GOAL!!!! Alex Tuch gives Vegas the 1-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/BMClaxmJZ7— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 14, 2018
But unlike Game 1, that lead would not stand. The Kings capitalized on a power play of their own as Paul LaDue scored his first postseason goal, tying it up at 1-1 late in the second.
We're tied. LaDue with his first postseason goal. pic.twitter.com/P4Ny7L8UbI— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 14, 2018
After that, Quick and Marc-Andre Fleury basically shut things down, leading to Vegas’ first-ever taste of postseason sudden-death overtime. And boy did it deliver.
But why have one overtime when you can have two?
That’s right, folks; this one went to double overtime. In fact, it took more than ninety-five minutes for the Knights and Kings to settle Game 2.
Both teams were unable to convert on the power play in extra time but continued to trade chances, though Vegas outperformed the Kings for most of the contest. Aside from outshooting Los Angeles 56-30, Vegas’ 5v5 team Corsi For percentage was 60.67 compared to the Kings’ 39.33.
But Quick was the difference, stopping 54 shots and finishing the game with a .964 save percentage. He has now stopped 81 of 84 shots through two games.
However, Fleury more than held his own, making 29 key saves throughout the game.
Extremely difficult deflection save by Fleury. pic.twitter.com/no3Lq8ZUjP— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 14, 2018
Even though he didn’t face as many shots, he made big saves at critical moments, including this one at the tail end of the first period, which would have completely changed the complexion of this game.
He also got some help from defenseman Deryk Engelland, who made a key play to deny Jeff Carter in front of a wide-open net.
YIKES pic.twitter.com/047QH2KFCD— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 14, 2018
But by the time the second overtime rolled around, both teams were exhausted. Anze Kopitar led all forwards in ice time with 38:54, and defensemen Alec Martinez and Oscar Fantenberg led all players with 44:51 and 41:03, respectively. For the Knights, William Karlsson and Marchcessault both played more than 34 minutes, and Nate Schmidt led the team with 37:19.
It was a much less physical game than Game 1, especially once it reached extra time. The two teams combined for 136 hits, just nine more than the 127 in Game 1 despite the extra thirty-five minutes of action.
After countless chances, in the end, the game-winner came on a seemingly harmless zone entry as James Neal brought the puck into Los Angeles’ end and fed it to Haula, who was streaking in on the right side. Haula had Tuch open across the zone but made a move and slipped it in past Quick, sealing the victory. Neal and Shea Theodore grabbed the assists on the play.
This was a battle.
There’s nothing like sudden-death playoff hockey, which the Knights and Kings proved tonight. Every turnover was panic-inducing, every rush was exhilarating and every shot felt like it would directly determine the final outcome of the series.
But the Knights had to have this game, especially once it reached double overtime. Losing a game like that on home ice with Doughty out of the lineup would have been a massive momentum boost for the Kings, and the Knights would have lost home-ice advantage in the series. Instead, they’ll head to Los Angeles with a 2-0 series lead, which is huge.
Game 3 is Sunday in Los Angeles, and you can expect a ferocious effort by Doughty and the Kings.