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Wild Continue To Give Life To Opportunistic Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Most Golden Knights fans were ready to turn off their TVs after the opening 20 minutes of Game 3. For a second straight game, the Minnesota Wild outshot and outworked Vegas earning a 2-0 1st period lead. However, a two-goal lead wasn’t enough to put the Golden Knights away.

The final results came down to open opportunities and Vegas’ ability to jump on them.

They came out to a quick start. They were faster than us to a lot of loose pucks. I think that’s what gave them so many opportunities. We have to try and turn that around as quickly as possible because we don’t have a chance. We’re a fast team but if we’re not playing fast we’re just waiting for them to score. -Reilly Smith during 1st Intermission of Game 3

It’s obvious when the tide turned last night. When it looked like the Wild would take a commanding 3-0 lead, coach Pete DeBoer made a wise challenge that paid off instantly. Not only did Minnesota have a goal taken away but it gave Vegas a sudden moment of hope. That’s when the visiting team realized they weren’t down and out despite trailing 2-0. The challenge was the first opportunity and it woke up Vegas. Holding the Wild to only two in the first period changed the direction for the Golden Knights.

The 2nd period was filled with more opportunities for Vegas.

Vegas’ turning point was our penalties. It took us out of rhythm, it took us out of the hockey game. -Dean Evason, MIN coach

The Wild widened the door last night when they failed to make it a three-score game and couldn’t stay on the ice in crucial moments. Special teams in the postseason isn’t only about scoring or stoping the puck. They change the flow of the game and in turn which players are being utilized when. The Wild have penalty killers throughout their lineup, so when they are forced to kill off multiple power plays, they can’t roll their lines and create matchup problems for the Golden Knights. Compounding the problem, Wild forward Marcus Johansson left the game in the 1st period with a broken arm leaving a unit that relies on depth one man short.

We were sustained in there and they’re moving the puck and we’re working. Those are hard minutes. Even the guys that aren’t on it are sitting there and so the rhythm of the game, we got out of it. We clearly got to stay out of the box. -Evason, MIN coach

Another chance that the Golden Knights took advantage of was the building frustration from the Wild. Minnesota players Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman had several dangerous chances but could slip one past Marc-Andre Fleury. That threw off the Wild in the 3rd and caused offensive disarray. When the game clock expired, the Wild had only mustered up four final period shots. That allowed Vegas to play cleaner and safer down the stretch.

Jumping on certain moments during a game wasn’t just unique to last night. Visiting coaches all season long commented on how Vegas is a team that feasts on opponents’ mistakes. In Game 2, the Golden Knights picked up a big push from Jonathan Marchessault’s game-tying goal that caught the Wild off guard. It was the team’s first score of the series and the confidence was unleashed. Late in the game when Minnesota was pushing, star Kirill Kaprizov committed a tripping penalty ending their 6-on-5 advantage. Vegas drew the penalty and made it easier to run out the clock.

Through three games Minnesota has proven itself as a worthy opponent. They pulled off a gutsy Game 1 victory on the road, and had fast starts to Game 2 and 3. On the other hand, Vegas hasn’t looked particularly impressive aside from one dominant period yet they lead the seven-game series 2-1 and have reclaimed home-ice advantage.

If trends continue the right way, the Golden Knights should advance as long as they continue to be opportunistic.

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19 Comments

  1. knights fan in minny

    holdy was good brown had to show them go to the net good things happen

  2. A VGK Fan

    Brown is underrated and needs to play more. I like him better than Kolesar and Glass. Would be nice to get Patch and Nosey back soon though.

    • THE hockey GOD

      brown’s dad, Doug Brown, was a very steady player for the Detroit Red Wings. Brown appeared in 854 games in his NHL career, scoring 160 goals and adding 216 assists. He also played in 109 Stanley Cup playoff games, scoring 23 goals and recording 23 assists. He was a member of the Detroit Red Wings for their Stanley Cup victories in the 1996–97 and 1997–98 seasons.

    • Pistol Pete

      Don’t like him better than Kolesar but agree he’s underrated. What I want is Reaves scratched and bring in Glass for the PP.

      As for Glass he is one of six first round draft picks currently in the VGK system joining Patch, Tuch, Theodore (all of whom played way more AHL games than Glass’ 22), Krebs and Brisson. I realize the impressions some have of Glass that he’s not fast and is deficient on 5 on 5 but Patch is not a speedster either and played 82 AHL games. Glass has 17 pts in 22 AHL games which is really very good. I have not given up on him.

      • Howard

        Pistol Pete, I 2nd everything you said.

        • THE hockey GOD

          Jack Dugan and Pavel Dorofeyev provided the offense and fellow rookie Logan Thompson stopped 22 shots as Henderson defeated San Jose, 4-1, in Game 1 of their Pacific Division semifinal series in Las Vegas on Friday night.

          The Silver Knights take a 1-0 lead into Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Sunday afternoon (4:00 ET, AHLTV).

          Dugan opened the scoring 8:20 into the first period, redirecting Brayden Pachal‘s shot from the right-wing wall to give Henderson a 1-0 lead.

          San Jose tied the score on a similar play, with Jake McGrew sending the puck on net and Jayden Halbgewachs tipping it home to make it 1-1 at 15:02 of the first.

          Dorofeyev put the Silver Knights in front for good with 9:41 to play in the second period, getting behind the Barracuda defense and converting a pass from Maxim Marushev.

          Dugan then completed his first pro hat trick with a pair of empty-net tallies, securing the victory in Henderson’s first-ever postseason game.

          • Pistol Pete

            Dugan should get a look up here next season I’m pretty sure. Is his speed OK?

  3. Sam Bacon

    It’s not just that the Wild game out strong and we were less so – it’s a strategic call in the last two games by the Wild to go out in the first period and play a high intensity pressing style requiring every line to be making 200 foot sprints every shift. They’re closing all space, as soon we we get secure possession in our end quickly hurrying back in front of the puck etc etc. For the first 20 it seems like they have 6 men on the ice at all times – BUT the last two games showed they can’t play like that for 60 mins. So as they tire we pounce – it’s a strategy that nearly worked last game to take charge of the first, score lots and hang on. We’ll see if we adapt at all for game 4 or if we keep letting them own that period before ‘punching themselves out’ as it were.

    • Howard

      Sam Bacon; That’s what Makes The AVS so tough because they can play exactly how you say for longer periods of time. If VGK FO had half a brain, they would have passed in petro and Lehner, and gotten center depth to do the same 🙂

      • Pistol Pete

        They should trade Lehner if they can, right? That won’t be the case is something happens with Fleury in these playoffs, but it’s become pretty clear the two starting goalies strategy was not worth it as far as the cap. In some fairness to the FO, last season it looked like Fleury was in decline so they set about finding a new starter and trade Fleury. That was probably flawed in the first place because of Fleury’s big salary and age. In any case they ended up being stuck with two starters at $12m. In retrospect they should have stuck with Fleury and find a standard priced backup.

        • Howard

          Pistol Pete – front office spin = they tried to trade MAF, no takers, so they said, ” we better with 2 starters.” MAF had 2 issues last year. 1. The passing of his Pops. 2. Was over playing and out of position. He worked with a new goalie coach on that and fixed the issues. If he made the adjustments 10 years ago he made this year, we would be discussing how he would be considered the greatest NHL goalie of all time right now.

          Lehner is untradeable and, because he’s made it known he deals with personal issues, at any time those issues can arise and mess him up. This was primary reason no other FO would sign him.

          Vegas FO here had made several mistakes. They did a good job inaugural season obviously, and that’s gone to their collective heads. With the exception of Stone, all their moves have either been neutral or flat out terrible.

          • Howard – are you a fly in the front office with all this inside scope or just plain full of hot air on how you think they think. You often elude to the fact you have a inside story but always indicate you can’t say why – there was a guy on this site that often used having the information on good authority which more often than not turned turned out incorrect. I don’t recall that individual being you but the style is similar. You appear to have a fairly good grasp of the game and some of your observations are right on, however when you come up with anonymous type remarks with nothing to back it up it taints your observations to just being another opinion despite being presented as fact. What would have you think that Fleury’s coach had him change his style after 17 years? If that was the case maybe there is hope for the walrus but I seriously doubt that just as I question the Fleury situation. The media is fulled with false news it is a shame people buy in to that BS.

          • Pistol Pete

            I hope we can still hold some hope Lehner can be placed elsewhere in spite of the issues otherwise we are stuck we two starters until Fleury moves on. Guess it can make it easier to win regular season games?

      • Getting Petro was just their way of making a big splash (splash brothers)- not sure they actually had a plan in mind – signing Lehner was just another way of wasting cap space and very short sighted. He definitely isn’t a bridge or anything else to their future. They were and are under the false idea they can buy their way to the Cup. All the money can’t and will not buy the attitude necessary to win and in many regards is a deterrent because it fosters that false belief.

      • Jinklu

        Absolutely

        • Howard

          “What would have you think that Fleury’s coach had him change his style after 17 years? ”

          Ask Ken; or just do some simple homework yourself.

          As for the rest of what you said, I’m Colonel Klink.

          • THE hockey GOD

            if you are col Klink

            then I am I sgt. Shultz !

            Look out here comes Major Hochsetter, heads are going to roll ! Look out.

  4. Howard

    Very clever, hockey Odin.

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