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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 MINNESOTA WILD 1 (Series Tied 1-1)

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Recap: Minnesota came out attacking the Golden Knights and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. The Wild poured on the shots in the 1st period launching 17 on Fleury. Vegas’ goaltender handled his heavy workload and kept the game at a scoreless tie. 

The Wild scored the game’s first goal 12:07 in the 2nd period but Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault tied the game :18 seconds later with what might be a season saving goal. Alex Tuch gave Vegas their first lead of the series later in the middle frame.

Leading 2-1 in the final period the Golden Knights locked down defensively and held the puck for extended periods in the Wild’s zone. Tuch came through again with a last-minute power play goal to seal Game 2. 

With their 3-1 victory the Golden Knights even their first-round series with Minnesota 1-1. The series continues Thursday in Minnesota. Game 3 is scheduled for 6:30 PM PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: In a game in which the Golden Knights prioritized a fast start, they didn’t get it. They were outskated in the 1st but another massive period from Marc-Andre Fleury kept the game scoreless. It took a shock to the system to wake up the offense as Jonathan Marchessault answered a Wild goal at the perfect time. An excellent hustle play by Mattias Janmark helped set up the game-winning goal, one of Vegas’ first in close against the Wild all season. Then, in the 3rd, the Golden Knights did just enough to hang on. A late penalty drawn by the 5-on-6 defense of Vegas salted away the victory. Vegas wins a game they must have won. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Minnesota Wild Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena

  • Superstars being silenced, will it continue and if it does, who does it favor?

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Jonathan Marchessault
** Marc-Andre Fleury
* Alex Tuch

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27 Comments

  1. Howard

    Bottom line – VGK would be looking at a 4th seed this year if not for MAF, and that was what pissed a lot of us off when he wasn’t in net for The President’s cup game against AVS. MAF’s adjustments IMO have made him the best goaltender in The NHL. Does anyone seriously think with Lehner in there that this would not be 2-0 Wild right now?

    I sure hope Lehner does not see the net except if MAF gets hurt. Lehner is a decent goaltender, but he’s not capable of standing on his head like MAF is, and he was close to stealing 2 games in the series so far.

    Just LEGENDARY goaltending by MAF here and a little luck on that hit crossbar.

    • Pistol Pete

      Lehner was not at his best in that 6-5 loss to MIN giving up that 5-3 third period lead. It may not have been those third period goals as much as some earlier ones, but that loss hurt. I always thought they should have made Fleury the starter beginning the Avs game and play the last one in SJ.

  2. LVsc

    Whew! they redeemed themselves after an embarrassing 1st period. only Fleury kept them from losing this one early.

    That is how you get guys open in front, you pass from BEHIND the net, Gretzky’s office. That forces their dmen to face the boards, and that leaves guys open in the slot. Tuch is a force when he goes to the net.

  3. Frank

    First period… Garbage. Second and third… Much better. We can score and beat the wild. Just gotta do it three more times. Fleury on point as usual. Great answer goal by Marchessault. Way to be infront of the net on those one time opportunities by Tuch. Need to carry the momentum over into Minnesota.

  4. Wow, what a friggin unbelievable performance from MAF, so many wow saves. Awesome game. If Lehner was in there it probably would have been 3-0 after the first period. Nothing against him, but the Wild had so many very high danger chances Robin just doesn’t have the quickness and reaction time to make the saves MAF did tonight.

    This could be the most important series in VGK history. I say this because there is a book on how to beat VGK, as Ken pointed out, that was written last year in the playoffs, and MN is executing that book to a high level. SO, of VGK can adjust and learn how to beat the defense MN is following, it will best the book for not only MN, but for all teams going forward. Beat MN and their chances of advancing get a lot better. And the good news is that they were way better in the paint, getting bodies down low, scrapping for the greasy areas. Encouraging game from that standpoint. Formula going forward – more of that and don’t you dare, dare, dare even think about starting any other goalie than #29.

    • Justin – if Lehner the walrus had been in the net the score would have been in the double digits for MN. Fleury continues to carry the team as he has done all year. The splash brothers should be kissing is butt.

  5. Btw that pass Janmark does from behind the net where he dumps it to the front center of the net I have seen him execute superbly about 10-15 times now and there is never our skater there to handle it cleanly, always off just a bit. Tonight Tuch was in the perfect spot to receive it and look what happened. Hopefully first of many. Janmark is a very good setup guy once his linemates anticipate better what he is going to do.

    Also, an object of scorn here, Petro had a very good game to my eyes. He brought a lot of pressure from the d into their o zone.

  6. Brent T

    Can we please get over the concept of a checking line? The 4th line got ROASTED tonight and haven’t been effective since the first period of game 1. Kolesar stepped up as an individual playing in Nosek’s spot and Carrier was bearable when he was playing hockey and not just hunting for hits. Reaves was invisible outside of checking someone while leaving the Wild a juicy scoring chance.

    Vegas needs the bottom 6 to shut down, get 1 scoring chance a period and provide offensive zone line changes. A checking line that can’t defend as a unit, break out or provide prolonged offensive pressure is going to cost them.

    • Brent T

      Just to clarify my statement when I said checking line.

      Here is a scenario. Opposing player has the puck and VGK 4th line is skating towards them. The opposing player goes to pass the puck. The VGK 4th liner does:
      A) Attempt to block the pass
      B) Cover future passing lane
      C) Find uncovered man
      D) All of the above
      E) Yeet your body into theirs

      From my viewing experience when the 4th line is Carrier-X-Reaves option E) is the choice 80%+ of the time. This is why they get caved in, they only look for the hit and not if there is a defensive/hockey play that can be made.

      I am for yeeting players but only if it’s to make a play and not just for the sake of yeeting a player.

  7. Pistol Pete

    Seems putting Tuch with Stone and Stephenson worked pretty well. Could be part of the blueprint moving forward, with Patch still out that is.

  8. Pistol Pete

    Damn they should have given a guy like Dugan
    a look heading down the homestretch of the regular season. Someone, anyone in lieu of Reaves especially a guy like Dugan who goes 209. Apparently Dugan’s 33 pts in 37 AHL game is not a difference maker yet, at least not in the eyes of the FO. Have not seen him play. Guess he’s not all that fast, maybe?

    • THE hockey GOD

      dugan is not ready, did you see the last game he played at end of season? HE wasn’t skating all out. Maybe because it was last game of season ? I don’t think he’s ready.

      I wonder who they will call up, someone on BLACK ACES. I don’t think Dugan is on it.

      They will probably call up Brown or that small skater, what’s his name Sikura ? I would opt for Brown. If Nosek can’t go. Nosek probably came back too early from his injury and looks like a separated shoulder from that hit.

      • Pistol Pete

        I would expect him to go all given the chance. He may not be ready but probably for lack of skill not the effort he would apply.

  9. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    W E W I N !!!!!
    Thanks boys!

  10. THE hockey GOD

    26 finally took off his training skates and played an excellent game, should get a star.

    and lehner finally shed his hippie hair, i wonder if the helmet and mask fit ?

    nice gutsy win, VGK won the first period; I should say no. 29 did. Allowing them to win the game.

  11. Tim

    When or lose Fluery has demonstrated in his four years as a Knight we have been blessed to watch one of the all time great players in hockey history.

  12. Daryl

    MAF is the reason VGK won this game!!! How many high scoring chances is he going to stop? At some point he won’t make all those saves and have a normal goalie hockey night… I don’t know if VGK will win when that happens. MAF needs some help defensively at some point.

  13. Peter Turner

    I recall quite a number of games in the regular season when the #1 criticism of VGK team was that they did not come out hard in the first period but nevertheless got the win in the end. This game was pretty much like that.

    Every team is different and I think repeating what we did with the slow start in the regular season eventually earned us this win and if that works, why change it?

    Here’s my reasoning why I think this game strategy worked to our advantage and why we might be getting closer to solving Minnesota Wild.

    First we need to recognize that the Wild is a faster younger team than VGK. It’s suppose to be a rebuild period for them but it looks like the pieces are in place and have helped them into the playoffs. Just to give you an idea, one of the fastest skilled guy they have in Zach Parise is a now a healthy scratch. This is a Wild team that’s always been built on speed and I would contend when they used to have Mikael Granlund, Nino Nitterider and Eric Haula on their top line, those 3 could run circles around any of the VGK lines.

    Wild’s offensive success is mainly due to their fast forwards and most of their fast skilled forwards are below 6ft. I’m talking about Kaprizov (5’9), Kevin Fiala(5’10), Spurgeon (5’9), Zuccarello(5’8), Hartman(5’11). That’s almost half of your 4 lines. If the game becomes a track meet, we will eventually lose.

    What we did instead is give them possession of the puck in the first period. You can’t be hitting their players if you have possession of the puck like we did in Game 1. So we let them have the fast start and they ended up having more SOG than VGK but we ended up out hitting them. That’s why we started the 4th line against their top line. We matched brute strength against their speed. We pummeled their speedy guys and by the end of the game, you can tell the Wild couldn’t wait fast enough to get off the ice and get on a plane home.

    That’s about it. Line matching and what I said earlier about standing in front of the net and scoring that greasy goal is what works against the Wild. Sure they will watch the video and adapt but at least now we know what works against them and we can shock and awe them in St. Paul.

    Go Knights go!

    • Daryl

      VGK won last night because of MAF. It’s that simple. When the goalie is able to make the saves MAF has it takes something out of the offense. I don’t think starting slow and finishing string is a good strategy. If we start out slow and MAF doesn’t make the saves he mad, VGK is down and they aren’t coming back against a team lime MIN

      • Peter Turner

        Of course MAF was excellent. He was our #1 star but he can’t score a goal although he tried at the last second but the puck got batted down.

        MAF is our best defense but we can’t win if we can’t score a goal. It’s that simple.

        When I said, the team started out slow, I meant offensively. Defensively we shutdown the Wild like a 3rd wave of Covid. You want to be smart where you spend your energy.

        In Game 1, we spent that energy in period 1 and got tired by OT. Mental mistakes and fatigue crept in and #7 made a bad decision, #19 made a bad poke, puck bounced of #23’s skate and we lost in OT. Fluke win.

        In game 2, we let them dribble all over us in period 1 but we finished our checks and made them pay physically. They still managed to get the first goal and then hubris set in. They thought we were done. They took a back seat. In reality, we were still fresh and had enough energy to make that quick rush up the ice and Marchy scored a beautiful equalizer. You should have seen the stadium erupt like never before. It was as if we won the cup. That is the kind of energy the VGK team could feed on.

        MAF, sustained energy, discipline to stay out of the box and the guy who camped in front of the net to score 2 subsequent goals won us the match. We were playing with one player short. It wasn’t just 1 person that won us the game. It was a team effort. Don’t just play hard, play smart.

        Go Knights go!

        • Julie

          Hi, Pete – I get what you are saying, I just have a few questions. This strategy works as long as we have a stellar goalie and with a team like the Wild, basically give up the first period to tire them out, do I have that right? Would this mean the forechecking stays more conservative and then gets more aggressive in the 2 and 3rd periods until a lead is established? It seems we still need a proper defense in more than the goalie looking at all the crazy saves Fleury did (i.e., Talbot was great but he saw all shots coming on Sunday, and we did a little better screening him Tuesday) From what I understand, a lot of those were Grade A or dangerous chances that Fleury denied. I don’t know how long he can sustain that. So, if he has a regular game or Lehner plays, would this strategy keep working? Thanks, I am fascinated with understanding how strategy scenarios work in hockey.

          • Peter Turner

            It’s not just a stellar goalie. It’s the job of the entire team to play a strong shutdown defensive period to frustrate their fast offense. It’s also not about when we forecheck and when we don’t. My point is that we need to play to our strength and not theirs. Their strength is speed. Our strength is hitting the crap our of them. We will not beat them if we try to win on speed. We have only 1 Marchy, they have like 5.

            During the post conference, MAF confirmed what we already know when the reporter asked him if he had a talk with his defense guys to not block his view or let anyone block his view and he said that it was very helpful that in this game, he could see the puck and make those amazing saves.

            Both goalies are equally good at stopping shots they can see. The difference is the greasy goals scored by being in front of the net. Erickson Ek scored one in Game 1, Alex Tuch scored 2 in Game 2. All three are the kind of goals that makes it difficult on a goalie because there’s very little time and space for the goalie to react. However, I would contend that had Erickson Ek’s shot not deflected off Martinez skate, MAF would have stopped it. My point is that we need goals like that. Heck we need every kind of shot on goal we can get but we need the dirty, greasy ones more in the post season and the only way we can get them is:

            1. Be brave and stand near the front of the net
            2. Be strong on the puck
            3. Wear the opponent out until towards the end, they make a mental mistake and let someone stand in front of the net.

            Again, I’m not saying this is the ONLY way we can win. We need all kinds of shots. The Theodore/Martinez/Piertra bomb from the blue line, The Tic-Tac-Toe of Karlson, Marchy and Smith, the WIld Bill/Stevo/Stoner breakaways, The Max-Patchy Ovechkin power shot from the circle, The Smith/Stoner special stick puck deflection goal and most importantly, the Alex Tuch/Smith/Reavo/Carrier stand-in-front of the goalie to screen and score kind of goal.

            That’s how we win. Enough of the MAF vs Panda fight. If we don’t score, it doesn’t matter who is between the pipes.

            Go Knights Go!

        • Daryl

          I’m not disagreeing with anything you said… I guess my point is, if we start out slow like we have all season and MAF doesn’t make those saves, I don’t think we can get back into the game and win it. MIN has had so many high scoring chances and MAF has shot them down it sometimes effects the shooter mentally and the team as a whole.

  14. Peter Turner

    Again, slow start doesn’t mean we let in goals. We focus on the forecheck and let them attack us. Slow starts means we prioritize defending and neutral zone trapping. That’s the textbook way of slowing down a fast opponent. Let them expend all their energy trying to crack our tough defense and impenetrable goalie. We let our big guys hit them when they dump and chase, we let our skilled stick handlers out stick their guys, and we let Martinez block as many shots as Marty Brodeur did in a rental car commercial.

    At the end of the day, is it more important to have a fast start or win the game?

    • Daryl

      So we focus on defense and let them expend all energy on offense… sounds good but how long can we expect MAF to play like he has been. We haven’t been concentrating on defense if you look at the shots MIN has had. When MAF stops being super human some of those shots are going to find the back of the net. It work out last game but what is our record against winning teams? I’d say that strategy doesn’t work. just my opinion

      • Peter Turner

        I’m not asking VGK to change anything. From my observation, this has been the style that predominated the regular season and brought them to the top of their division (almost). You can’t argue out of both sides of your mouth claiming that MAF is a super goalie but we are shouldn’t let pucks get near him. If he’s a super goalie, let him participate and show off his skills. The stadium wouldn’t be chanting his name (twice) if he had not been given the chance to stop those hi-danger shots he faced on Tuesday. When the players see the magic that MAF does, it gives the forwards the confidence to focus on being offensive minded players. When MAF makes that miracle save, it energizes the entire team and they will respond by playing hard for their goalie and focus on nothing else but scoring goals.

        If MAF suddenly stops being super human and lets in a bunch of goals, then we switch to Panda. Either way we’re screwed.

        All that being said, we play to our strength. MAF is one of our strengths. Our forechecking is next and we have the size advantage and we can also score. That doesn’t guarantee a win in Minnesota but we we will make them pay dearly for trying to beat us.

        VGK at this stage reminds me of the LA Kings in 2014 WCF. We are the bigger team against a faster/skilled Chicago Blackhawks team. LA used their size advantage and Martinez scored the GWG in OT to send LA to the SCF and they won the cup. Both goalies were excellent. Both teams had equally skilled role players. In the end, LA played to their strength and won the series. We can do the same thing against Minnesota.

        Here’s a bit of trivia in that 2014 playoff series. When Minnesota beat Colorado in their first round, they did it with speed (Granlund/Haula/Niederreiter) but it was a close fight. Guess who was leading the scoring on the Colorado side against Minnesota? It wasn’t McKinnon. It was Stastny with 5 goals and *shock* defenseman NIck Holden with 3 goals. Greasy goals near the front of the net and the occasional power bombs from the blue line by a skilled d-man may end up being the secret sauce to winning this series.

        Go Knights Go!

  15. Pete Turner

    Just wanna say I called Nick Frickin’ Holden.
    Wear em out boys. Bury them in the 3rd period.

    Go Knights Go!

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