The Vegas Golden Knights scored three unanswered goals to hand the Colorado Avalanche its first home loss of the 2021 playoffs on Tuesday night, a 3-2 overtime win that now puts the VGK one win away from the final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Mark Stone scored the overtime winner, his third career playoff game-winning goal, on a breakaway at :50 after Alex Pietrangelo blocked a shot in the Vegas zone. Max Pacioretty hit Stone in stride with a stretch pass and he wristed the puck glove side on Philipp Grubauer, just nicking the underside of the crossbar.
The game almost ended as soon as overtime began. Marc-Andre Fleury had to make two big stops just 10 seconds into the extra session, more than making up for a first-period gaffe that ended up in the back of his net at 19:58 of the first period.
Right at the end of the first period, Colorado’s Brandon Saad broke in on the left wing and threw a wrist shot at the net from the boards. Fleury reached across his body to catch it… and missed. 1-0 Avs less than two seconds before the first intermission.
“I saw it pretty good,” Fleury laughed after the game. “I feel bad. Maybe when I was younger it would have thrown me off a big more but I’ve been around… the guys in the locker room had my back.”
Fleury finished with 28 saves for the win.
- At this point, I’m willing to say this is what Colorado had in the tank. They threw everything at the Vegas Golden Knights and pushed the VGK back for different parts of the game, especially the second period. They built a 2-0 lead. And then when Vegas scored the first goal, you could see them tighten up a bit. When the second goal went in, there was a definite pucker factor increase. And when Stone ended the game in OT, it’s as if someone burst the balloon and all the air was sucked out of the city of Denver.
- The series isn’t over. Colorado is a very good hockey team. But as I said earlier, they’re a one-line team. All due respect to Brandon Saad and his seven goals, if the top line isn’t producing the Avs are in trouble. After Game Three they said they needed to be better. In Game Four they were held to five shots. Tonight in Game Five? One assist (Rantanen), combined minus-2 rating, four shots. Nathan MacKinnon was held off the sheet again with two of those four shots.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was the face of the franchise again tonight in a major way, showing a resilient nature in bouncing back from that bad goal. Everyone knows it was a bad goal, but that’s the thing about the Golden Knights. This team knows for a fact they’re never out of a game, and they love Flower and love playing for him. You bet they wanted to win for him as much as each other. A rare mistake with terrible timing, but the VGK bounced back together.
- There might not be a hotter ticket than Game Six on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. Colorado has not shown it can handle the craziness of 18,000-plus screaming Golden Knights fans, and Thursday should be another notch up the scale.
- Of his OT game-winner, Mark Stone says he saw the shot block and “I just took off”. What will be overlooked in this play is the pass from Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty swung a fast stretch out to Stone in one fluid motion on his backhand to spring the breakaway. Pacioretty displayed a sixth sense about where Stone would be and his handling of the puck that had just ricocheted off a teammate is amazing. Watch the replays, and if you can find one at full speed you’ll be amazed at the deft touch.