It took over four periods of hockey to see the first regulation goal between the Minnesota Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights.
It only took Jonathan Marchessault 18 seconds for the next one.
In the interim, that 18 seconds could seem like a lifetime as it ticked off the scoreboard. Matt Dumba had just scored for the Wild to put his team ahead 1-0 with a shot that seemed to have eyes, eluding the excellence of Marc-Andre Fleury and finding room in the top corner. For a Wild team that had just won Game One in overtime on the road, getting the first regulation goal could be seen as yet another sign of why this iteration is the one to make a deep run for the State of Hockey. It came after a typical workmanlike shift for the Wild, who won board battles and set up the chance for Dumba through a screen.
As the Wild goal celebration line skated past the Golden Knights bench, head coach Pete DeBoer looked down at his notes, stonefaced. The crowd was anxious. Fleury upset that he somehow didn’t magically know where a puck he never saw was to keep it out of his net – but also understanding the weight of that first goal.
The whole city of Las Vegas was now holding its collective breath.
This could have been the time where Vegas got in its own head. It’s human nature to wonder if maybe things really aren’t going your way today, or in the series. When you feel like you’ve done all you can and yet still have no goals to show for it, plus you carry the weight of prior offensive lapses and playoff expectations… things get heavy pretty quickly.
Off the next faceoff, Minnesota controlled the puck at center and appeared ready to move back in and set up shop. Except the puck didn’t make it into the Golden Knights zone. It was cut off at the blue line and then Vegas manage to clog things up and force a turnover.
Reilly Smith brought the puck in on the right side, chipping it ahead with one hand on the stick to give himself room to collect it and look up.
At that moment, Jonathan Marchessault was attacking the zone with speed, moving to his right as Smith found him with a pass. Instead of driving the net, Marchessault let a shot fly at speed, finding the tiniest opening over the left shoulder of Cam Talbot as the Wild goaltender was shuffling to his left to adjust the angle.
It was an absolutely perfect shot.
As Marchessault celebrated his goal skating behind the net, he only briefly held his arms out. Almost immediately he began shaking his head “yes” emphatically to the crowd. When he turned back to face the cameras in the arms of his teammates, his face was one of confidence. He shouted “let’s go!” as he entered the celebration. Vegas collectively exhaled.
— Vegas Hockey Now (@VegasHockeyNow) May 20, 2021
Whatever it was hanging over the heads of the Vegas Golden Knights like their own personal Sword of Damocles suddenly evaporated. Jonathan Marchessault had broken the fog. The Golden Knights would go on to win the game without allowing another goal. Alex Tuch would score twice, once on the power play.
Now the Golden Knights are even in the series and have a chance to take control tomorrow night.