The hockey gods punished the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday in Game 2 at the Ball Arena. The Golden Knights outshot, outhit, and outplayed the Colorado Avalanche for two periods, but four posts and a dubious slashing penalty in overtime delivered Game 2 to the Avalanche.
Colorado won 3-2 in OT when Mikko Rantanen scored a power-play goal after Reilly Smith’s penalty.
The Golden Knights outshot Colorado 31-12 over the final 40 minutes of regulation but hit four posts behind Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer. FOUR.
Grubauer has not yet shown his Vezina credentials in the series. Despite stopping 30 of the 31 shots over the final two periods, Grubauer left juicy rebounds tantalizingly close for VGK attackers.
Colorado leads the series 2-0. Game 3 isn’t technically a must-win, but it figuratively is. Only three teams in the last 46 years have overcome a 3-0 deficit.
Yes, Friday night is for all of the marbles.
Vegas will keep Marc-Andre Fleury in net. Fleury didn’t have much work after the first period on Wednesday but still managed a couple of spectacular saves.
Fleury’s Vezina competition, Grubauer, will be in net for Colorado.
Ryan Reaves will serve the second of his two-game suspension in Game 3. Colorado’s Nazem Kadri is currently serving an eight-game suspension for a hit in Round One.
Vegas Golden Knights Lines:
What to Watch:
Speed and loose pucks. Game 1 was decided as Colorado got to the edges on the Vegas Golden Knights defensemen. VGK never got to the forecheck in Game 1, and a few softies by Robin Lehner turned the imbalance to a laugher.
However, Game 2 was a role reversal. Vegas created turnovers and chances from in-your-face pressure on Avalanche puck carriers in the neutral zone. The Avs top line and defensemen had difficulty completing passes.
Colorado never got to their speed game.
Can the Golden Knights not only create those rebounds off of Grubauer inside the fortress but can they put them back on Colorado’s net?
Vegas needs to stay on the attack and be physically aggressive. If Colorado’s top line gets momentum and confidence, it could be a long night. MacKinnon was off in Game 2. Vegas needs to chip and irritate him to keep him that way.
Game time is 7:07 p.m. or thereabouts with television coverage.
Vegas Golden Knights Game Notes
*The Vegas Golden Knights & Colorado Avalanche have met 16 times during the regular season since 2017 & Vegas has a 7-8-1 record against Colorado in the regular season. This season, Vegas went 4-4-0 against Colorado & were led by Max Pacioretty, who finished with eight points (6G, 2A) in seven games.
*The Vegas Golden Knights are the fourth franchise in NHL history to make the playoffs in each of its first four seasons, following the Edmonton Oilers (13; 1980–1992), New York Rangers (9; 1927–1935) &St. Louis Blues (6; 1968–1973).
*The Vegas roster includes four Stanley Cup champions: Marc-Andre Fleury (2009 PIT, 2016 PIT, 2017 PIT), Alec Martinez (2012 LAK, 2014 LAK), Alex Pietrangelo (2019 STL) & Chandler Stephenson (2018 WSH). Fleury is one of eight active NHL players – & the only active goaltender – with his name on the Cup at least three times;