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One Shift Illustrated How The Golden Knights Won Game 1 And How The Can Keep Winning

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It happened early in the 2nd period, a shift from the Misfit Line of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault matched up with Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez. Playing against the strongest defensive pair and the best shutdown line Montreal can offer, the Golden Knights put together 46 seconds of dominance that encapsulated how Vegas stormed out to a 1-0 series lead and stands as a shining example of exactly what must continue to happen for the Golden Knights to punch their second ticket to the Stanley Cup Final in four years.

After the Golden Knights struggled their way through the 1st, despite getting out to a two-goal lead, they finally started doing what they set out to do in beating the Montreal Canadiens.

In this one shift, the Golden Knights demonstrated a ferocious forecheck, multiple perfect pinches by defensemen, excellent puck support by all five skaters, strength along the boards, and an offensive mindset that put Montreal under so much pressure they were forced to take a penalty.

Here it is. Watch it and focus on how often there are moments where the puck is out of VGK’s possession and how they go about getting it back in several different ways.

It starts with a dump in from the red line by Martinez. While Karlsson wins the race to the puck, he’s hounded by two Canadiens. Karlsson recognizes he’s outnumbered and quickly jabs the puck forward to the open space and a waiting unmarked (for now) Reilly Smith.

When Smith gets it, he sees the defensemen rushing towards him and moves it around the wall. It’s hard to tell if the pass is directed towards Marchessault under the goal or all the way around to Martinez, but there’s no doubt Smith knows where the defense is lightest and moves the puck that way.

Here’s where we get our first good pinch of the shift. Martinez instantly recognizes that the puck is past Marchessault and look where the puck battle occurs. It’s directly in line with the faceoff dot, or about 30 feet from the blue line. Also, check out where Marchessault has migrated to as he is in perfect position to cover for the pinching defenseman. This marks the 2nd time there is a loose puck Montreal could have possibly collected, but Vegas was quicker and stronger in order to keep it away.

Martinez hacks and whacks at the puck at one point actually taking on two Canadiens and never truly gains control of the puck. This is where puck support comes into play. Karlsson is there to help and he collects the loose puck, the third one of the possession. Marchessault moves off the point to present an option, one Karlsson tries to take, but it’s blocked. So, Karlsson has to go somewhere else, this time it’s so Smith, who is also supporting the play.

As it goes down into the corner, it’s now the fourth time there’s a loose puck. Marchessault is the first on the scene to collect it, continuing a possession that has yet to even set up for any offense at all but has lasted 20 seconds already.

A battle along the wall sees the puck pushed out to the front of the goal where the strong stick of Karlsson gets a piece of it not once but twice to work it to the wall. This is where he have our fifth loose puck of the possession. Montreal actually wins this one, but Smith is supporting Martinez’s point as Alec has jumped in to challenge for the loose puck and the puck is played directly to him. Smith feeds it back in to Karlsson who finally gives the Golden Knights a chance to get a look on the goal.

It’s this little backhand pass by Karlsson that is taking advantage of one of the weakest parts of Montreal’s defense. The pass is headed to Pietrangelo at the far point. Look at all the traffic he must put the puck through to get it there.

The pass beats both players challenging it, plus the winger charged with covering Pietrangelo, who is headed back towards the middle of the ice to deal with the activated Martinez. Montreal’s biggest deficiency in defending in their own zone is their inability to break up long cross-ice passes. They struggle with positioning of players as well as stick position which allows dangerous long-range passes that stretch them out and put them in precarious positions, as we see here.

Pietrangelo takes no time in putting the puck on net as he sees two Golden Knights creating traffic in front of Carey Price, another hallmark of the way VGK need to play to win this series. The puck is blocked off to the corner where Marchessault is once again the first to this, the sixth, loose puck.

Now, tired from chasing Vegas all over the zone, Joel Edmundsson takes a lazy careless slashing penalty turning the shift for the Golden Knights from good to great.

Marchessault tries a play he and Karlsson have executed 1,000 times in Golden Knights jerseys, skating away from the goal only to whip around and throw it on net for a tip, and it’s just not quite there. Karlsson wins to the seventh loose puck of the shift, gets it to Smith who attempts to hit the extra unguarded attacker heading directly to the goal on the delayed penalty.

This is an absolute masterpiece of a shift by the Golden Knights and it’s one that’s parts were replicated time and time again by this line and others for Vegas throughout the final 40 minutes of Game 1.

Simply put, the Canadiens are not talented enough to handle this kind of pressure consistently from the Golden Knights. If VGK are forechecking, supporting the puck, and winning races and battles to the boards as often as they did in this shift, the Habs will continue to look as helpless as they did in these 46 seconds.

This shift is the epitome of how the Golden Knights want to play this series. It took them 25 minutes to finally get to it, but once they did, they didn’t let up for the remaining 35 and it’s why they have a 1-0 series lead. If they do it again, and again, and again, over the next six or fewer games, Montreal will never have the answers to defending it.


Vegas’ Unheralded Unit Comes Through Again




  1. knights fan in minny

    game two keep up the good work boys

  2. THE hockey GOD

    one shift
    everybody knows the rules

    -Dave Portnoy
    (the pizza review guy)

  3. Blitz

    What does Vegas need to clean up to ensure domination (or at least victory) in game 2? I think vegas struggled to get the habs out of the vgk defensive zone for long moments of time thru out the game. Sure 6 on 5 at the end of the game, but also at other times. Usually vegas is good at collecting pucks after some keep away, but even when they collected they would end up losing it back or the habs would stop the clear. The puck usually ended up in front of fleury and every one playing wack a mole trying to get it. I felt this made the Cans dangerous at moments. I also assume this game the habs d men will be more active in the offensive zone. I read somewhere they had zero shots on goal for the d men.

  4. Phill

    Keep holding and obstructing your opponent you will win it all

  5. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    “The” PIVOTAL GAME !

    That’s what most people in hockey, call game 2 of a series.

    The 1-0 team can win and take control of the series, most times (sorry AVs).

    The 0-1 team can tie it up and steal home ice advantage back.

    Simply put, can’t let the Habs off the floor. Can’t give them any hope.

    Just can’t lose this pivotal game. Go get em’ boys!

  6. Tim

    Lets cut through all the hype. If anyone thinks the Suzuki, Caulfield.Taffoli line is going to out play the Misfit line there dreaming, If anyone thinks there second line will out play Patch, Stone, and Stephenson what can I tell you, Again our third line with Roy, Janmark, and Tuch will smother there third line. Montreal has a good defense but sorry not near as good as Martinez, Petro, Theadore, and McNabb, with Holden and Whitecloud as our third D-Line. All this fake news Montreal in 7 boys lets go out and kick there ass and take two in Montreal and as they said in the movie Tombstone ( Lets Finish This Thing ). I’m sooooo tired of hearing that Canadian and for that matter all the American teams that can’t stand our soon to be 2 appearances in the Stanley Cup in 4 years. If I was them I wouldn’t put to many Beaver Bucks on the series.

    • THE hockey GOD

      what is a beaver buck ?

      it’s the playoffs , anything can happen, remember Canada owns the NHL and by default the HABS. I wouldn’t put it past them, watch the refs closely.

      • Blitz

        I was wondering the same thing. Here in Oregon it would be something Oregon State related, but I am guessing it is stripper’s money. Am I right?

      • Tim

        Hockey god we all learn something new from time to time. Now I’m 75 and I’m guessing your a lot younger but when I was a kid the Canadian money was called Beaver Bucks.

  7. Vegas will probably win this series . But I’m hoping they lose the cup final. They don’t really deserve the cup. The expension draft gave them a crazy team. I wish the expension was like when Columbus or Minnesota had their franchise. Hard work to build a franchise. Not here you go i give you a franchise with full of good player. It’s cheap and this expension draft was rigged as hell

    • Blitz

      I think the real proof of your theory is going to be Seattle next year. If Seattle makes the playoffs it will lend credibility to your complaint, but I would have to ask you… if you are the NHL and want to expand with a new team and that team is built with nothing but absolute trash and free agents (that you could actually get to go there), how long do you think that franchise would survive? How strong would the fan base be season 2 or 3 after shitting the bed badly year 1 and 2? No one on paper expected VGK to be worth a crap in year one. Most players were throw aways (Fleury) or trades to avoid random selection by VGK. It WAS a roster of expendable players or those too costly to keep. No super stars, but alot of middle of the road potential. Look at the team now though, a good part of the original team is gone. So I am not sure I could even keep the expansion team narrative going. The top line is all new. Line 2 still original. Line 3 is 2/3 new. Line 4 a mix, but mostly not original. D men mixture, but mostly new. Vegas did have the luxury of not being capped out year 1-3, but come next year they will be right there with all of the other great teams that got snake bit by the cap. So I disagree, vgk need to win the cup THIS YEAR.

    • DOC (Go Knights Go)

      That’s ancient history pal. Stop the sour grapes BS!

    • knights fan in minny

      go away fool

    • Tim

      Mister your obviously a fan of another team which has probably been buried at the bottom for years. When we paid 500 million and Seattle paying 650 million your going to get a break. You still have to pick the right guys which George and Kelly did. So Toronto who hasn’t won for 54 years or Buffalo who’s never won should be our model for incompetence and we should carry on that tradition. Are you out of your F-ing mind.

  8. knights fan in minny

    what the heck i put this under reply to mister mister go away fool

    • It’s not a question of the Original team or not. This team is so strong right now because of this rigged expension draft. Imagine starting your franchise with 4 1st round pick. In Suzuki-Glass-Branstrom and Theodore. Using this advantage to go trade for Stone for Branstrom and Suzuki for Paccio. A all of famer in net to starts. I’m notva fan of any team. I like hockey on general and good story of hockey. When a team deserve to win it’s better. It’s just clearly proove how Betman did not want another Arizona story. I’m sure Vegas fan would have still love the team even if they had a rough start. It’s just a boring story, can’t tell me. Oh Vegas deserve it, they work so hard to build a victorious franchise…

      • Richard Santomauro

        The players that VGK got were all throw aways and not protected by their teams. Stop whining. VGK’s first year was a Cinderella Misfit story. Those throw away players had something to prove and they did.

        This team is strong because it picked the right players and made some very good moves since year 1. Period. It has nothing to do with anything “rigged”.

  9. Richard Santomauro

    Okay, any word on what is going on with Chandler Stephenson? Total surprise that he is out and off that 1st line. WOW!

  10. Richard Santomauro

    I love Nick Roy, but he does not belong on the 1st line with Patches and Stone – period! Tuch has played C this season and has the speed. That line is useless with Nick Roy on it. He’s the 3rd line Center. WOW!

  11. Richard Santomauro

    First period Notes.

    * I find it odd that PDB would put Roy on the top line with Patches and Stone. He’s a rookie and belongs on that 3rd line. If anything you move Janmark or Tuch up to the top line at Center.

    * Golden Knights were beaten to just about every puck in their own D-zone. VGK definitely did not play up to their talent.

    * VGK can’t allow its top players to be roughed up out there on the ice. Petry’s hit was legal but warrants a huge response. Someone needs to put a target on him to make him think twice about it.

    * 4 Shots on goal is just plain awful for this team. Shameful is the right word., even disgraceful fits. VGK simply didn’t come out to play in period 1. Period.

    * They say that when Montreal scores that they are unbeatable. It’s time to prove that story line false.

  12. Richard Santomauro

    Period 2, Quick Note.

    So, PDB must have heard me or was watching the hot mess with Roy on the top line. What does he do? He moves a slower rookie to the top line, Kolesar, who belongs on the 4th line.


    • Richard Santomauro

      Note to myself.

      After watching Kolesar and Roy, put Roy on line 4 and Kolesar on line 3. Kolesar is much better but I still would like to see Janmark or Tuch on line 1.

  13. Richard Santomauro

    Period 2 Notes.

    * A slightly better period for VGK. Kolesar is better than Roy on line 1 but I still think Janmark or Tuch is the answer with Kolesar back on line 3.

    * Pietrangelo scores and will be off my shit list if he gets another. He’s actually been playing great the past 5 games or so. He earned some of that $61 million dollars.

    * Misfit line not doing much of anything this game for some reason.

    * Patches did get a great chance hitting the post in this period after Kolesar back checked and stole one.

    Now it is time to prove that MTL can be beaten.


  14. Richard Santomauro

    Game notes.

    The Golden Knights came out over confident and their play on the ice in period 1 was pitiful, a total disgrace. You cannot play 30 minutes of hockey and expect to beat any team in the NHL.

    0-6 on the Power Play. 0-6! It’s been very inconsistent throughout the year, but 0-6 in the playoffs is a recipe for losing.

    Lastly, PDB had better fix these lines and not use rookies on the top line.

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