Things didn’t start well for the Vegas Golden Knights, but they finished just fine. Vegas scored five unanswered goals to delete a 2-0 deficit and claim Game Three of the Honda West Division Semifinal series from the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Ryan Hartman opened the scoring just 2:16 into the first period followed by Joel Eriksson-Ek’s goal at 8:30. Minnesota even appeared to open up a 3-0 lead on what would have been Eriksson-Ek’s second of the game, but Pete DeBoer successfully challenged the play and the Wild were called offside.
In the second period, Vegas woke up. The Golden Knights out-shot the Wild 21-5 in the second, tying the franchise record for shots in a playoff game period. Mark Stone scored his first goal of the playoffs at 8:39 to start the scoring for Vegas. Patrick Brown and Reilly Smith followed in the second period, and William Karlsson made it 4-1 in the third.
Stone would add an empty-net goal with just under a minute remaining to ice the game for Vegas.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 14 shots as Vegas really took the Wild out of the game after the first period, allowing only nine shots over the final 40 minutes.
- The most important thing Vegas needed to do was weather the first-period storm from the Wild, and they struggled with it. Minnesota scored twice and had a third goal disallowed while Vegas really seemed out of it and lethargic. Fortunately for the Golden Knights, they are an incredibly talented team that can break out from such a period and rebound as they did tonight.
- Tonight was the 12th straight start for Marc-Andre Fleury in which he has allowed two-goals-or-less. He is doing nothing short of carrying the Vegas Golden Knights right now.
- Patrick Brown scored in his first game of the 2021 playoffs, a real lunchpail goal from directly in front of the Wild net. A heads up pass off the back dasher from Nick Holden rebounded out into the slot for Brown’s shot.
- Holden ended up with two assists on the night for his first two points of the playoffs.
- Vegas did a nice job staying out of the box, only taking two penalties all night. The Wild were in the box five times although the Golden Knights PP struggled.
- Max Pacioretty was still held out of Game Three but earlier in the day DeBoer described him as day-to-day and a game-time decision.