Golden Knights win 5-4 2OT thriller to take 2-1 series lead over Jets
The Vegas Golden Knights pulled off a stunning 5-4 win in double overtime against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday afternoon at Canada Life Centre.
The Golden Knights blew a three-goal lead in the third period and gave up the equalizer with just 22 seconds left in regulation. However, Vegas recovered, with Michael Amadio netting the game-winner less than four minutes into the second overtime to take Game 3 and grab a 2-1 series lead.
Jack Eichel scored two power-play goals and had a game-high three points in the win. Chandler Stephenson and Keegan Kolesar also scored for Vegas; Alex Pietrangelo played a team-high 34:30.
Laurent Brossoit got his third straight start, and while it wasn't his best game, he came through with his second playoff win, stopping 30 of 34 shots for an .882 save percentage.
The Golden Knights opened the scoring less than three minutes into the contest when Stephenson scored his second goal in two games. Mark Stone made the pass through the neutral zone to spring Stephenson, who beat Connor Hellebuyck cleanly, giving Vegas its first 1-0 lead of the series.
Brossoit made some key saves when Winnipeg got a power play shortly after Stephenson's tally. A heated scrum ensued, resulting in an abbreviated power play for the Golden Knights.
For the first time this series, Vegas took advantage of the opportunity.
It was Eichel who scored on a one-timer off a cross-ice feed from Stephenson, giving Vegas a 2-0 lead just 6:18 into Game 3.
But the Jets stormed back and made the most of one of their limited chances early. Kyle Connor scored his second of the series after winning a race to the slot and deflecting a feed from Dylan DeMelo. Brossoit had no chance on the play, which made it a 2-1 game just over nine minutes in.
Winnipeg had a few other dangerous looks, including a wraparound that went through the crease. But Vegas held the Jets to just six shots after yielding 14 and 17 in Games 1 and 2, respectively. Vegas led 2-1 after one for its first intermission lead of the series.
It was a strong period for Vegas offensively, as the Golden Knights had little trouble getting into the zone and were able to take advantage of Winnipeg's light defensive coverage. The forecheck was strong, leading to plenty of prime scoring opportunities, and Vegas' gap control was much improved. Vegas outshot Winnipeg 10-6 and led 21-10 in Corsi and 11-6 in scoring chances at 5-on-5.
The Jets suffered a massive setback in the first period, however, losing star defenseman Josh Morrissey; Morrissey did not return, forcing Winnipeg to play with five defensemen for the rest of the game. Jets coach Rick Bowness revealed after the game that Morrissey will miss the rest of the series.
The second period was another strong one for the Golden Knights.
The Jets were in control early with a much more effective forecheck coming out of the first intermission. Winnipeg had several extended shifts in the offensive zone and hit the post just over five minutes in. But Brossoit came up with some timely stops – including a glove save on Pierre-Luc DuBois in the slot – to keep Winnipeg at bay.
Just as the Jets were really starting to heat up, Jonathan Marchessault drew a tripping penalty at the midway point of the game, setting up Vegas' third power play of the day.
In Games 1 and 2, Vegas failed to take advantage of such opportunities; that was not the case in Game 3, at least in regulation.
It was Eichel who cashed in on the ensuing man-advantage, scoring his second goal of the game and third of the series to give Vegas a 3-1 lead at 10:46.
It was his second power-play goal of the afternoon, matching his total from 67 games in the regular season.
The ice had tilted, and Vegas continued to maintain control. The Golden Knights were efficient in all three zones, leading to a Winnipeg turnover in Vegas' end.
Eichel forced the turnover, sending a blind centering pass to Amadio just inside the blue line. Amadio utilized a spin-o-rama to avoid a Winnipeg skater and proceeded to feed the puck to Eichel along the right wall. Eichel sent an intelligent shot off the pads of Hellebuyck, leaving a juicy rebound for Kolesar to clean up.
It was Kolesar's first of the series and gave Vegas a three-goal lead with 2:16 remaining in the frame. The primary assist was Eichel's third point of the game.
After DuBois' chance from the slot, the Golden Knights held Winnipeg without a shot for 8:15. When all was said and done, the Golden Knights outscored the Jets 2-0 and outshot them 16-5 in the middle frame, giving Vegas a 26-11 edge in shots through two periods.
The Golden Knights were up 4-1 headed into the third period, but it was a lead they were unable to hold.
The third period belonged to the Jets.
Winnipeg first showed signs of life 2:04 into the frame when Nino Niederreiter beat Brossoit cleanly with a seemingly harmless wrist shot.
Winnipeg continued to push and had many grade-A chances, but Brossoit fought them off for the next 10 minutes. However, he was unable to hold off the Jets on a late power play, as Mark Scheifele scored his first of the series, ripping home a top-shelf shot to make it a one-goal game with 5:52 remaining.
The Jets didn't pull Hellebuyck until there was just over a minute left in regulation. The Golden Knights chased pucks but were unable to get a clear; Winnipeg had them scrambling, and the Golden Knights failed to collapse in front of Brossoit, which ultimately led to the Jets' game-tying goal with just 22 seconds on the clock.
It was Adam Lowry who scored his fourth of the series, stuffing back a rebound from the top of the crease.
The Jets fought all the way back, scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to tie the game at 4-4 and force overtime. Winnipeg outshot Vegas 17-11 and held a 22-14 edge in Corsi at all strengths.
The Golden Knights had a great scoring chance in the waning seconds of regulation but were unable to score; however, they forced DuBois to take a penalty, setting up a power play to start the overtime period.
But Vegas was not sharp on the carry-over power play and proceeded to ice the puck twice in the following minute.
Winnipeg had the edge early, and the Jets hit their second post of the game.
But both teams played well defensively, with the Jets clogging the middle of the ice to force Vegas to the outside and the Golden Knights coming up with key blocks and taking away shooting lanes.
Though the Jets looked dangerous in the offensive zone, the Jets didn't record a shot for the first 14:56 of the period, and four of their five for the frame came in the final 2:20. Vegas had a slight advantage in shots (6-5), while the Jets held a 24-20 margin in Corsi at 5-on-5 in a relatively evenly-matched period.
The Golden Knights got another power play early in double overtime; once again, they were unable to convert, and the Jets kept them stationary in the second half.
However, Vegas' forecheck went to work and forced a turnover; this time, the Golden Knights capitalized.
Dylan Samberg's pass from the corner hit Ivan Barbashev's skate and came to Amadio in the slot; Amadio made no mistake, firing it bar-down to end the game 3:40 into double overtime.
It was Amadio's first career playoff goal; he finished the contest with two points, two shots, five hits and a block.
"It was a pretty special feeling," Amadio said after the game. "I know we grinded all night for that, so it was nice to get the win."
This was an exhilarating hockey game. But it didn't need to be.
The Golden Knights held a 4-1 lead in the third period and were up 4-3 with under a minute to go. The Jets deserve full credit for their comeback, but the Golden Knights sat back at times during the third, and some late mistakes could have been series-altering for Vegas.
"Obviously they had shots, but I didn't feel like we were in trouble," Bruce Cassidy said about the third period. "We've had games where it's been sustained pressure, we can't get out of our end, we ice the puck. We had a couple icings, we could have been better, but they seemed opportunistic to me. ... Both the last two goals, we were there and we kind of overskated. It seemed like we were going to put out a fire and clear the puck and for some reason we kind of overskated and didn't, and they took advantage of it."
However, the Golden Knights still surrendered a three-goal lead in the playoffs.
"We have a veteran group, so two things go into that," Cassidy said. "You shouldn't give up a lead when you have a veteran group, you should find a way to get it to the finish line. We also have a veteran group that can put it behind us."
Several of those veterans made significant contributions to the win, the most obvious of which was Eichel, who had one of his best games as a member of the Golden Knights. He was outstanding on both sides of the puck, scored two goals and an assist and had seven shots, three hits and a block. He was noticeably hustling, separating Jets skaters from the puck to prevent scoring chances and making countless plays in all three zones to contribute every time he took the ice.
Stone and Stephenson teamed up once again to give the Golden Knights their first 1-0 lead of the series, and Brossoit made the necessary saves with the game on the line. Vegas was much better on the power play but finished 2-for-5 and dropped the ball in extra time.
Cassidy said the power play was better and that it helped Vegas win the game but that the Golden Knights would "keep chipping away at it."
Despite the collapse, the Golden Knights were able to fight through adversity and overcome immense pressure in a hostile environment to pull off the win. This team has found ways to win all season, and Game 3 was no exception.
Cassidy suggested that a win of this nature could end up benefiting Vegas moving forward.
"More minutes on them, and it's a little demoralizing I think when you come back that far and then you don't get it done," he explained, adding that there will be more stress on the Jets' blue line, which will be without its top defenseman in Morrissey.
"Maybe it builds something on us," Cassidy continued. "Even though we didn't have our best, we found a way to win. ... At least our guys know, 'Hey, you're never out of it.'"
The same can be said of the Jets. That being said, the pressure is on Winnipeg headed into Game 4, which is set for Monday night.