It nearly happened again.
In Game Two, the Vegas Golden Knights controlled most of the play, had the most scoring chances, heavily outshot the Avalanche, yet still lost the game. Back in Vegas for Game Three, the same ill fate nearly fell upon them in an eerily similar manner.
With the game tied at two, the Avalanche went to the Power Play.
With the game tied at one, the Colorado Avalanche went to the Power Play.
Mikko Rantanen beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a point blank wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Alec Martinez was too soft in his coverage, allowing the space for the shot.
Mikko Rantanen beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a point blank slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Alec Martinez was too soft in his coverage, allowing the space for the shot.
One big, game-saving difference. Rantanen’s goal in Game Two came in overtime, no chance to recover. In Game Three, the Golden Knights were left with 14:56 to tie and/or win the game and they were miraculously able to.
Landeskog (92) battling Theodore (27)
USA Today Sports
In this context, the use of the word miraculous does not allude to the Golden Knights having no chance of scoring. It does not mean the team should lose every game to the Avalanche. The word is a testament to the unsuccessful firing squad they’ve put on Avalanche goalie Philip Grubauer for the past two games. Not only that, but the way they scored their goals was extremely shocking, considering the high-level play of Grubauer.
With just over five minutes left in the third period and potentially their post-season lives, the Vegas Golden Knights got a rare goal from Jonathan Marchessault. In a game where his “Misfit” line was finally playing like it was 2017, the undersized winger found some fortune.
Marchessault received an amazing pass from the Game Two scapegoat, Reilly Smith. Smith’s no-look pass hit Marchessault with a step on the Avs defense low in the Colorado zone. The snake-bitten forward flubbed on his breakaway chance.
But wait, there’s more.
The undeniably scrappy winger stayed with the play and fought through body contact with the Avalanche defense behind the goal. He was able to find his errant puck and fling it back toward Grubauer, who for some reason didn’t react to the original miss and left space between himself and the near post. The rebound try hit him in the rear and ended up in the net.
That goal set the T-Mobile Arena off. Even the look in Marchessault’s face was one of shock, awe, and jubilation all at the same time. With their momentum back, the team was likely hoping for another quick goal, before the Avalanche could settle down and get back into the solid play the finally reestablished.
Just 45 seconds later, Nick Holden sent a seemingly basic shot toward the Avalanche goal, just looking to keep pressure on Grubauer, who finally showed a sign of weakness. Max Pacioretty was able to spin around and then redirect the high shot, down through the legs of an awkwardly positioned Grubauer.
Two interesting goals in 45 seconds and all of a sudden the Golden Knights had the lead and a great chance to win their first game of the round. Grubauer’s frustration was apparent as he slashed at Pacioretty following the go-ahead goal.
Colorado would attempt to respond with a strong shift from the MacKinnon line, a timeout, and another strong shift from the MacKinnon line. Timely saves from Fleury mixed with some overthinking on the Avalanche’s part sealed the game for the Golden Knights. Even Rantanen, the VGK killer, had a dazzling chance reminiscent of the Game Two GWG, but overthought it going low and it was thwarted by Fleury.
VGK Wins, Make Series: 2-1 Avs
USA Today Sports
For the third straight game, the bottom pair of Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague were the best duo for the Golden Knights. They have been playing beyond their years and experience and have been the unsung heroes of the Golden Knights’ success thus far.
Game Four will be played early Sunday evening, with 100 degree temperatures in Las Vegas. A 5:30 PDT start could bring some ice complications, with a few players on both teams crashing and burning in the corners during this game.
Expect a spirited effort from an Avalanche team that has fought through injury adversity this season, but have yet to battle back from territorial domination in two straight games. Their line juggling seemed to spark the team with Andre Burakovsky adding even more speed to the MacKinnon-Rantanen duo.
Game Four will be huge. Colorado needs to resestablish themselves as the top seed and the more dangerous team. The Golden Knights MUST win because heading back to Colorado for an elimination game is not where they want to find themselves. With VGK taking Game Three, Game Four has suddenly become an extremely interesting and crucial win for both clubs.
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