At points in this game, the Golden Knights looked absolutely dominant. At other points however, they looked lackadaisical and unprepared.
The Golden Knights entered this game looking to carry their momentum from the third period of game one. They came out and controlled the play for a majority of the first period in game two. Paul Stastny broke the ice just over halfway through the period to put Vegas on the board first. Tomas Nosek, who drew back into the lineup following the announcement that Max Pacioretty would miss tonight’s game, scored his first goal of the playoffs just shy of five minutes after Stastny’s goal. The Blackhawks generated some pressure in the remainder of the period, but Vegas’ defense held tight and did not allow many high danger chances. Mark Stone took a slashing penalty on Alex DeBrincat in the final minute of the period, but nothing came of it. Vegas took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission with all the momentum in the game.
The second period of games has been a problem for the Golden Knights since the restart of the season. In the four second periods prior to Thursday’s game, they have allowed nine goals. Unfortunately for Vegas, things proved much of the same in game two. Chicago came out of the break and looked like the faster, more desperate team. It took just over three minutes for Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach to score his first career playoff goal and to cut the deficit to one. About nine minutes later, Dominik Kubalik evened up the score on the powerplay, sniping a shot past Alec Martinez and over the glove hand of Robin Lehner. The Golden Knights were not playing like themselves through the first 15 minutes of the period. Once the final five minutes rolled around, the team started to gain some life. Mark Stone would give the Knights a spark they so desperately needed with just under three minutes to play in the period. A shot-pass from Martinez ricocheted of Stone’s chest, onto his stick, and into the back of Chicago’s net. The Golden Knights were ready to take a 3-2 lead into the third period, but Chicago had other plans. With just 13 seconds remaining in the period, Dylan Strome put home a pass from Patrick Kane after Strome found himself all alone in front of the Vegas net. The three goals allowed in the second period by Vegas makes it 12 goals in just five second periods.
With the score knotted at three, the Golden Knights looked to dominate the third period once again. They did just that. While neither team found the back of the net in the period, Vegas outshot Chicago 16-6 in the period. They dominated time of possession and held Chicago to very few chances. When time expired, the teams entered the dressing room in a 3-3 stalemate.
Chicago came out firing in the beginning of the overtime period. Their best chance came off the stick of Dylan Strome who hit the post with his shot. This however seemed to wake Vegas up again, and Vegas dominated remainder of the game. Shortly after three excellent chances by Nicolas Roy, Alex Tuch, and Brayden McNabb, the puck found its way to the stick of Paul Stastny. Stastny fired a pass from the left corner to the top of the crease to a waiting Reilly Smith. Smith deflected the puck over the glove of Corey Crawford, giving the Knights a 4-3 victory in overtime and a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Vegas, now with a 2-0 series lead, will need to play much more consistent if they want to win their next game. Game three will be Saturday, with game four being played on Sunday. The Golden Knights will need to be on top of their game to ensure they do not give the Blackhawks any life in the series. If they are not careful, they could find the series tied after this coming weekend.