After having a goal robbed from them in Game 2, the Vegas Golden Knights got redemption against the San Jose Sharks Monday night when William Karlsson scored the game-winner in overtime to give Vegas the 2-1 series lead.
First-ever postseason overtime winner. And it's a dandy. pic.twitter.com/LAGm5dDBo3— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) May 1, 2018
To get there, though, the Golden Knights had to overcome the Sharks breaking the scoring drought in the second period. The Knights responded with three straight goals to round out the period, with Colin Miller, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith all finding twine.
Then Evander Kane scored a questionable goal (which Gerard Gallant challenged), and Tomas Hertl tied it up in the third with less than two minutes left.
This game is not won without Marc-Andre Fleury, who saved the game more than a few times. He made 39 saves on 42 shots, posting a .929 save percentage. That beat Martin Jones’ .879 (29-for-33). Here’s Fleury’s best save of the night:
MARC-ANDRE FLEURY IS NOT A MORTAL MAN. pic.twitter.com/pNfXlYHxmi— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) May 1, 2018
The Golden Knights had significantly fewer penalties (four versus 10 in Game 2), including zero in overtime. They got two power plays during sudden-death time but didn’t convert on either opportunity.
The Golden Knights got outplayed through much of this game, but at the end of the day, what matters is the scoreboard. Vegas won. It’s put the Golden Knights up 2-1 in this series. Now they need to use that momentum to their advantage.
Let’s start with why Kane’s goal is controversial:
Evander Kane cuts the Vegas lead in half. pic.twitter.com/pdCEiHfPHJ— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) May 1, 2018
It looks like a good goal, but with Logan Couture leaning on Fleury, Gallant challenged for goaltender interference. The thinking must have been — if Marchessault’s game-winning goal in Game 2 didn’t count, then this one shouldn’t either. Especially considering how similar these goals are.
This one should count, however. Therefore, Marchessault’s should have as well. Neither Couture nor Marchessault causes enough harm to impede the goaltender. Yet one was called back. The other wasn’t. Hence, controversy.
The Golden Knights’ discipline in this game still wasn’t where it should be — four penalties is still a significant amount - but with a better penalty kill and Fleury’s play in net, it didn’t hurt them as much. Four penalties is also a lot more manageable than 10.
The Golden Knights didn’t drive play consistently until overtime. When it came down to it, they succeeded. The thing is, while this series goes on, it’s going to only matter more. The Golden Knights need to start driving possession throughout the game.
It’s how they beat the Los Angeles Kings. It’s how they got more than 100 points in the regular season. It’s why they are where they are. They need to figure out how to beat the Sharks consistently and do so.
The Golden Knights also need to do a better job of clearing the crease, especially during the penalty kill. Fleury is having to make too many high-danger saves a game, and if the Knights can crack down on that area through the rest of the series, it will make Fleury’s job significantly easier.
The Golden Knights caught the breaks that the Sharks caught in the last game. They need to play better when up goals, and keep the puck out of their defensive zone throughout the game. When the bounces are going your way, though, it’s hard to be beaten. That’s what happened to Vegas in this game. Hopefully, it continues to happen.