The Vegas Golden Knights came to their senses Monday night to put in a convincing performance in a 5-1 win over the Oilers in Edmonton. They took off by awakening Quebec’s Jonathan Marchesault, as they took a 2-1 series lead in the second round series after three games.
Limited to assists in seven playoff games so far, Marchesault found his bearings Monday night by scoring the Golden Knights’ first two goals. Zack Whitecloud, Jack Eichel and Chandler Stevenson also shook the ropes in a Vegas win. Eichel finished the match with three points.
The Golden Knights could boast of silencing star players Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who finished with a minus-2 margin. Draisaitl was notably cleared from the score sheet for the first time in the playoffs. Warren Voegeli was the lone scorer on the losing side.
“There’s not a lot to like about tonight’s game. We were in the same position from the last series, we knew it was going to be a long series,” McDavid said after the game.
“It wasn’t good enough. It’s disappointing, but we know what we’re capable of with the players. We have to be better,” admitted coach Jay Woodcroft.
However, not all was positive for the Golden Knights, who lost the services of their keeper Laurent Brossuyt. He injured his lower body in the first period and had to leave the game.
The game started well for Edmonton, just two days after he scored five goals against Vegas. Less than three minutes into the game, Foegele redirected a great pass from Derek Ryan on the counterattack to put the Oilers in the driver’s seat.
Silent until then in qualifying, Quebecer fired Marchesault just in time just moments later. Marchesault collected a space puck at the mouth of the net and took it twice to derail Stuart Skinner and put both teams back at square one. It was Marquessault’s first goal after eight consecutive matches without finding the net.
A tile fell on top of the Golden Knights midway through the first period, when Brossuyt collapsed to the ground after a move. Brossoit made a save from McDavid, but hit his lower body on the next move. Brossuyt remained on the floor for a moment, then retreated to the locker room after having great difficulty getting up, making way for Adin Hill’s reach in front of the Golden Knights goal.
Vegas got back on the charge at the end of the first period. With 51 seconds left in the first period, Eichel put together a fine front end line before laying the puck in front of the goal for Marchessault, who gave the Golden Knights the lead with his second goal of the game.
The Golden Knights then took advantage of the Oilers’ largesse of defense to increase their lead. Riley Smith lured defender Darnell Nurse high into the offensive zone, before leaving behind to Whitecloud who saw an opening ahead of him. White Cloud beat Skinner with a perfect shot over his left shoulder to increase Vegas’ lead to 3-1.
Having been a partner on both of Marchesault’s goals earlier in the game, Eichel showed his individual talent midway through the second half. He first got rid of Yvan Bouchard with a nice fake that brought the defender down, then raised the Golden Knights’ priority to three goals with an excellent wrist shot. Woodcroft then made the decision to remove Skinner from the match.
But with Skinner or Jack Campbell, the result remains the same. Moments after seeing a Nicholas Roy goal disallowed for a goalkeeper’s tackle, Vegas got back to work through Chandler Stephenson. The striker redirected a great pass from Roy into the net to make it 5-1.
In relief in front of the Golden Knights goal, Hill was perfect on all 25 shots he faced. At the other end of the rink, Skinner allowed four goals on 23 shots, before being replaced by Campbell who saved nine of the 10 shots he faced.
The series resumes Wednesday night in Edmonton for Game 4, as the Golden Knights try to corner the Oilers against the wall.
“We have to give the same response as in Game Two,” McDavid finally said of the next game.
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