What a game to open the Round Robin for the Vegas Golden Knights! After falling into a 3-1 hole, the boys in gold turned it on in the third period erasing the two goal deficit, finishing the night with a 5-3 victory. With the win, Vegas moves into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche at 1-0-0, while the Stars and Blues sit winless.
Next up for the Golden Knights will be the winless Blues, which means the Stars draw the Avalanche. It's quite possible the standings remain the same, with a tie-breaker featuring the Avs and Golden Knights on Aug 8.
So how did they get here? As previously mentioned, the Golden Knights found themselves in a hole, but it wasn't all bad for the third-year club. Below are a few takeaways from Monday night's tilt.
A Fleury-less Playoff Net:
In acquiring Robin Lehner at the trade deadline, the Vegas Golden Knights new they had a solid tandem and one in which both goaltenders would see regular ice time. So much so, they asked for Fleury's blessing before pulling the trigger on the deal.
With his start in Game One of the Round Robin series, Lehner became the first goalie to start a playoff game for the Golden Knights, not-named Marc-Andre Fleury. He came into the game with a perfect 3-0-0 record as a Golden Knight and for long stretches, it wasn't easy to tell if he'd improve on that mark.
Golden Knights Head Coach Pete DeBoer made a change at the end of camp, swapping Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins in Max Pacioretty's vacated 1-LW slot. The move worked wonders for both the first and third lines.
In their exhibition game against the Arizona Coyotes, the third line were the Stars of the Game. Nicolas Roy, Alex Tuch, and Cousins were electric in that one, recording a combined line of one goal, five assists, and a +/- rating of plus-6. Reilly Smith provided the first two goals of the evening.
On Monday night, it was the Stephenson - Karlsson - Stone line doing the most damage. Stephenson scored with a quick wrister, just 1:04 into the game. Stone and Karlsson picked up the helpers. Later on, Stone started the comeback, scoring Vegas' second goal of the night on a great individual effort in the third period. Karlsson sealed the win with an empty-netter in the closing seconds.
William Carrier Has the Hands:
Just 3:32 after Nate Schmidt tied the game, William Carrier scored the best goal of his life, on his first career playoff goal. Carrier, heavily leaned on by a Dallas defenseman, drifted across the goal mouth. He made slight contact with goaltender Ben Bishop, spun, and with his back to the net, flung a shot into the open goal. It was a goal nobody would expect from a guy like Carrier. It was his moment.
What would originally be waived off stood and Carrier had his playoff moment. Check it out.
Vegas Golden Knights forward William Carrier scores a crazy between the legs goal but it's waved off for goaltender interference. Golden Knights head coach P...
Determination, Never Quit:
"Do or do not. There is no try."
"If you want something, go get it, period."
- Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
"It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward!"
- Sylvester Stallone, Rocky
Each of these quotes were embodied by the Golden Knights in the Round Robin opener. Even in their 1-0 first period, the Stars had their fair share of chances and pressure. An entirely miserable second period followed, before the team showed how hard they could get hit, but keep moving forward.
Natural Stat Trick Game Flow (5-on-5):
What stands out in that Gameflow chart? From minute 40 until minute 60, the Vegas Golden Knights dominated a team that was controlling play and scoring goals. They made up a games worth of beating in one single period. This Golden Knights club is resilient, talented, and can never be counted out. This Golden Knights team could go a long way.
Clearly there are things that will need to be addressed in house. Sustaining game energy, shoring up loose ends defensively, and giving a consistent 60 minutes are at the top of the list. Fleury will almost certainly be in net for Game Two against the St. Louis Blues, a team who the VGK have had mixed results against.
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