The Golden Knights answered that call. In a game they absolutely needed to win, the Golden Knights showed up and shut out the stars 3-0 in dominant fashion.
“I thought we played a very good game,” Robin Lehner told the media after game 2. “The guys were ready from the start and we out-competed them today.”
Right from the opening draw, the Golden Knights looked like a different team. Maybe this was due to Ryan Reaves returning from suspension to bring more physicality to the team’s game. Maybe because like Marchessault said, they needed to win this game. Maybe the line changes head coach Peter DeBoer made prior to the game provided a spark. Either way, Vegas jumped on the Stars early and never let up. While neither team scored, the Golden Knights looked like the faster team. They had better chances in the period, two of the best coming from Nicolas Roy. Roy’s first attempt came on a shot from the slot that was stopped by Anton Khudobin. His second shot came in the dying seconds, where his shot from the front of the net went between his legs.
In game 1, the Stars took over the game in the second period. Tonight, Vegas did the same. Paul Stastny broke the ice for the Golden Knights just under five minutes into the period. Stastny tipped a pass from Max Pacioretty past the outstretched leg of Khudobin to make it 1-0. It had been over 275 minutes since the last Vegas forward had scored a goal, not including empty net goals. The Golden Knights were not satisfied with one goal and kept pouring it on. William Karlsson scored shortly after on the powerplay to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead. Shea Theodore added another powerplay goal as well, but it was called back due to goaltender interference. Later in the period, Tomas Nosek scored on a 3 on 1 rush thanks to some beautiful passing to give Vegas a 3-0 lead. The Golden Knights outshot the stars 19-7 in the second period and completely controlled play.
“We’re a good offensive team,” head coach Peter DeBoer told the media after game 2. “I think that’s part of our identity. I knew we would score if we played our game and we did.”
To start the third period, goaltender Jake Oettinger made his National Hockey League debut, replacing Khudobin. The young goaltender did not face a ton of pressure but did not allow a goal in the third period. The 3-0 score held up, as the Stars were unable to generate the offense, they needed to make up the deficit. They did outshoot the Golden Knights 12-5, but the chances they got were not prime scoring opportunities. Vegas looked like they were more interested in preserving the lead and killing clock than they were pressing the lead. They did not look like they were chasing the game at any point in the period, however. Dallas pulled Oettinger with four minutes remaining in the game to try to generate some offense, but it amounted to nothing. With just over a minute remaining in the game, Alexander Radulov took a four-minute high stick penalty, ending any chance the Stars had of making an improbable comeback. Robin Lehner recorded his fourth shutout of the playoffs, and his second in his last two starts. He never truly got tested by the Stars but made some key saves in the game to preserve the shutout bid.
In a must win game, the Golden Knights showed up. With the series tied 1-1, the Golden Knights will look to carry the momentum for this win into game 3. The one standout from both games is the teams’ ability to forecheck and fast starts. The team that forechecks the best has won the game. Also, the team that controls the first 5 minutes of play ends up controlling the game. The Stars did this to Vegas in game 1 and had it done to them in game 2. Dallas, like Vegas in game 1, will look to rebound from a poor showing.