When the Golden Knights walked off the ice at the end of regulation, they had to be in disbelief. Vegas had not surrendered a three-goal deficit at any time this season, and they had won 34 of 37 games in which they held a lead at the start of the 3rd period.
Yet here they were, headed back to the locker room with 18 minutes to prepare for an overtime period knowing if they don’t score next, it’ll go down as one of the worst losses in franchise history.
At that moment, there’s shouldn’t have been much positive to draw on. They’d blown a massive lead and turned what was a subdued environment into the most hostile one they’d played in for years. However, they did have something to hang their hats on, which offered a sense of calm and belief.
After the Jets scored to miraculously tie the game with 21.9 seconds left, captain Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, and Chandler Stephenson hopped over the boards looking to make something happen in the short time they had left. Stephenson won the draw, Eichel moved it back to Shea Theodore who stretched it into the zone back to Stephenson. He carried the puck with a purpose below the goal line and sent a centering pass to Stone. Brenden Dillon blocked the pass, but Stone kept working towards it and was hauled down by Pierre-Luc Dubois. Penalty!
I know the power play hasn’t been good but we had two tonight and we were feeling good about it. The message was that we have the power play and almost a full two minutes of one with good ice. Obviously we didn’t get it done but it was definitely something that we were able to look forward to and allowed us to get right back to pushing. -Chandler Stephenson
A simple play, in a moment of a hockey game where there’s basically no expectation of anything to happen, completely changed the feeling for the Golden Knights heading into OT.
I felt coming in after the 3rd before the 1st overtime that there was a lot of confidence in the room. We had the power play there and it was like ‘you know, hey, let’s try to score on this power play but if we don’t we’ll find one.’ We weren’t able to score but we knew we had some momentum going into the overtime and so we felt good about ourselves no matter what happened in the 3rd. -Jack Eichel
Instead of thinking about everything that went wrong to get them there, now they could focus on this massive opportunity when the game started back up.
We were calm. Everyone in the room knew we had it in us to finish the job. -Michael Amadio
The Golden Knights are a confident team, for good reason, but if there’s ever been a time for it to wane, that could have been it.
Rather, Vegas headed back into the tiny locker room inside Canada Life Centre with a real sense of hope and belief. As bad as what happened was, they still had the advantage, or a man-advantage as it were.
Leave it to a team from Vegas, even when you think you have them down, there’s always a chance they still have an ace up their sleeve.