The Vegas Golden Knights sure do love to make things dramatic, don’t they? After a thrilling Game 1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night, they turned right around and put together another instant classic in what ended up being the longest game in Golden Knights (and Kings) history.
Like Game 1, goals were few and far between Friday night. After roughly 95 minutes of total play, the Golden Knights pulled out the 2-1 victory in double overtime, making it their first postseason overtime victory (and first postseason overtime game in general) in franchise history.
As always, let’s review what we learned.
1. The goaltending duel continues
We are truly spoiled. The fact that we’re getting to see Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Quick battle it out in what could potentially end up being a seven-game series is a literal dream for goalie connoisseurs. Fleury and Quick put on a clinic in Game 1 and beating that wouldn’t be easy, but they somehow pulled it off Friday night.
Fleury had himself a heck of a performance, stopping 29 of the Kings’ 30 shots and making numerous clutch saves that kept Vegas alive when it mattered most. But let’s not get things twisted. Quick was an absolute monster all night. The 32-year-old backstop made a whopping 54 saves in Game 2 and basically carried the Kings to double overtime. Had it not been for Quick, this game likely wouldn’t have even gone beyond regulation.
2. Vegas’ conditioning is impeccable
It’s impressive anytime a team is capable of playing a game that lasts close to 100 minutes without literally passing out on the ice. But what’s even more impressive is when a team somehow manages to get better as the game prolongs.
As seen in the chart below, Game 2 was played pretty evenly through 20 minutes in terms of possession. As the game went on, though, the Golden Knights not only continued to drive play, but they somehow managed to pick up steam far beyond the end of regulation.
To me, this indicates one of two things — either the Golden Knights progressively found more holes in the Kings’ game as the night went on, or Vegas’ conditioning is just simply immaculate. Or maybe both of those things played a factor. Either way, Los Angeles simply couldn’t keep up with the Golden Knights beyond regulation, and it showed both on the ice and in the data.
3. Golden Knights take advantage of Kings’ absences
The Knights had a huge opportunity presented to them Thursday when it was announced that Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had been suspended one game for his hit to the head of William Carrier in Game 1. Doughty is unquestionably one of the best defensemen in hockey and beating the Kings without him in the lineup seemed like a near necessity. Luckily, Vegas managed to make that happen.
Doughty will be back on the ice for Los Angeles in Game 3 Sunday night, and Jake Muzzin will likely return to the Kings’ lineup at some point soon as well. Without a doubt, these first two wins for the Golden Knights could pay off big time when the Kings eventually get their two best defenders back.
4. Carrier continues physical play
It’s a good thing Carrier wasn’t concussed due to the hit Doughty laid on him in Game 1, because he’s easily been one of the Golden Knights’ more pleasant surprises in the early portion of this series.
Wednesday night, prior to exiting the game after Doughty’s hit, Carrier registered 10 hits. In Game 2, he kept the physicality going, recording 11 hits in just 12:16 of ice time.
Carrier may not have numbers that jump off the page, but he’s a skilled fourth-line winger who not only plays with the “grit” and “toughness” that coaches love so much, but also has the ability to generate offense and keep pucks out of the defensive zone (hence his 75.00 Corsi For percentage on Wednesday).