The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche continued their second-round series on Wednesday night, and after the whooping Vegas took days prior, the Knights needed a bounce-back effort.
They got that, but it wasn’t enough to defeat the red-hot Avalanche, who handed the Knights a 3-2 overtime loss to put Vegas in a 2-0 series hole.
This is the first time in franchise history that the Knights have trailed 2-0 in a series.
Vegas was extremely undisciplined throughout the game, taking four penalties in the first period and a back-breaker in overtime, which resulted in the game-winner for Mikko Rantanen.
The Golden Knights turned to Vezina finalist Marc-Andre Fleury, who started his first game of the series. He was once again great, but didn’t get much help with all of the penalties taken.
Dylan Sikura and Keegan Kolesar entered the lineup for the injured Mattias Janmark and the suspended Ryan Reaves, respectively.
The Avalanche picked up right where they left off and got on the board just under four minutes into the game. It was Brandon Saad who sent a change-up past Fleury on a shot he whiffed on.
HERE COME THE AVALANCHE!#GoAvsGo | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/djUj76yDJI— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 3, 2021
Alex Pietrangelo left the middle of the ice open, and while he got a stick on Saad’s, the puck ended up in the back of the net anyway.
Nic Hague went to the penalty box moments later after being whistled for holding, but the Golden Knights were able to kill off the penalty with the help from some great saves from Fleury.
Vegas went to a power play of its own less than a minute after the kill and were able to capitalize on the opportunity.
Alec Martinez rocketed one past fellow Vezina finalist Philipp Grubauer with the help of a beautiful pass from Max Pacioretty.
MARTINEZ!— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 3, 2021
GAME TIED. #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/7Rt4ertVnu
The Golden Knights went right back to the penalty kill after Pacioretty was whistled for the third holding call of the period, but Vegas killed off a strong power play once again.
But on an extended shift, Nathan MacKinnon drew yet another penalty, and this time the Golden Knights were not able to hold them off. Tyson Jost blew one by Fleury after parking in between the dots.
Power Play Precision. #GoAvsGo | #StanleyCup— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 3, 2021
: NBCSN pic.twitter.com/7wbPrY6jcS
Nicolas Roy was late on the coverage, and Jost took full advantage of the open ice.
The Avalanche got yet another power play at the end of the period when Shea Theodore shoveled the puck over the glass, but the Knights were able to get the kill after Gabriel Landeskog’s shot on an open net was blocked by Pietrangelo.
The period mercifully ended, and the Golden Knights were fortunate to head to the locker room down just goal.
The second period got out to an extremely quick start with both goaltenders having to make great saves, including a point-blank save from Fleury.
Incredible.#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/gTnyfpDTMd— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) June 3, 2021
The Golden Knights had a very good first half of the second period and finally broke through.
Reilly Smith received a beautiful pass from Jonathan Marchessault and skated past two Colorado defensemen before roofing it on a backhand shot.
This all starts with Smith doing the splits at the blue line to stay onside. Gets rewarded for the effort.#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/qahOBwntoB— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) June 3, 2021
The Golden Knights went to their second power play of the game after Marchessault was slashed, but they were unable to put another one past Grubauer.
After the power play, Marchessault rang the post in transition. It was one of at least five posts for Vegas in the game.
Much like the first round, the Knights had a much stronger second period in which they were able to even things up at 2-2.
Smith and Alex Tuch both rang the post in the opening minutes of the third as the Golden Knights were buzzing early.
Fleury had to make a great save on MacKinnon after a funky bounce off the boards, and Tuch was whistled for a slash on the play, so the Avalanche headed to yet another power play.
While shorthanded, Smith hit the post yet again, and Fleury had to make some astounding saves but was able to help the Golden Knights get the kill.
Moments later, Grubauer absolutely stoned a darting Tuch out of the penalty box as the game began to open up.
The Golden Knights went to a huge power play with a little over three minutes left in regulation after Pietrangelo was tripped up in the offensive end. Smith hit the post for the third time in the period, and the Avalanche got the kill. Grubauer was especially strong in this stretch, helping his team force overtime.
Less than a minute into overtime, Smith was whistled for a slash as he knocked the stick out of Rantanen’s hand, which sent the Avalanche back to a power play. The power play included a post for MacKinnon, and it was ultimately too much for the Golden Knights to handle.
Rantenen scored the game-winner at 2:07 of the period with a top-shelf short-side shot.
MIKKOOOOOOOOOOO!— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) June 3, 2021
The @Avalanche take Game 2 in overtime.#GoAvsGo | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/K7KSX7Anfu
It was a crushing end for the Golden Knights, who outplayed the Avalanche in almost every facet in Game 2. The Knights outshot the Avalanche 41-25 (not including all the posts), but a lack of discipline and an excellent performance by Grubauer were the difference in this one.
The Knights were undefeated in overtime in the regular season, but this is the Knights’ second overtime loss of the playoffs after losing Game 1 against Minnesota 1-0.
The series shifts back to Vegas for two games. Game 3 is Friday night, and it is an absolute must-win for the Golden Knights.