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Golden Knights Analysis

Golden Knights WIN! Goodbye McDavid, VGK Wins Series in 6, 5-2

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Vegas Golden Knights Win Game 6, 4-2 Edmonton Oilers

For the third time in six years, the Vegas Golden Knights will play in the Western Conference Final. They slayed the offensive juggernaut and greatest power play in NHL history when they beat the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6, 5-2 at Rogers Place. The Golden Knights won the series in six games.

*Clarification: The Golden Knights also made the Stanley Cup semi-final in the 2020 bubble tournament.

Jonathan Marchessault had a natural hat trick in the second period, though the Edmonton fans held onto their lids. Marchessault’s second goal stood as the game-winner. William Karlsson tapped in the empty netter to end the suspense.

“I think (Marchessault), his game — about halfway through the playoffs — realized that it’s not just going to be on a tee for him, so to speak,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Those types of goals or odd-man rushes (weren’t there). He has to get inside, and so he does.”

With only one power play, Edmonton struggled to find offense.

While American audiences were stuck channel surfing to find the start of the hockey game as the Disney conglomerate felt the end of a 9-1 baseball game to be more important, the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers went for the jugular in the opening minute of Game 6.

Neither team threw the knockout punch, but the Golden Knights weathered a tough first period and began throwing body blows in the second period. Marchessault’s hatty was emblematic of the Golden Knights dominance. The Golden Knights squeezed Edmonton’s stars like a python in the third period.

The Golden Knights pounced in the first minute. Reilly Smith was the happy recipient of an inexplicably bad turnover by Edmonton defenseman Mattias Ekholm in the slot. Smith quickly ripped it past Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner.

However, just 31 seconds later, and before Game 6 was a minute old, Connor McDavid converted a rush chance with a sneaky wrister from the right circle.

Before the game was three minutes old, Edmonton led 2-1. It wasn’t the Golden Knights grinders, but the Edmonton depth scoring that converted a play off the back wall when Warren Foegele buried a chance a few feet from the net.

That was the last Edmonton goal.

“It was a fun game, but our team did a great job of closing it up,” goalie Adin Hill said. “We got off to a great start. In the first period, I think Edmonton came out pretty strong, and then after that, I thought we bounced back and played a solid game.”

And then the ESPN TV audience got a few highlights to catch them up on the wild action. Thanks, ESPN. At least the ending of the 9-1 St. Louis Cardinals’ blowout win over the Boston Red Sox was just as thrilling.

Trailing by two in the third period, Edmonton had only seven shots in the first 15 minutes of the third period.

The first Edmonton power play didn’t occur until later in the second period, and without man advantages, the Golden Knights’ depth slowly tilted the ice in the second period. A few grinding shifts by the third line midway through the second period with Nicolas Roy and William Karlsson pinned Edmonton deep.

With momentum, the Golden Knights’ top line lit the lamp twice and again seconds after a 4v3 power play. Marchessault scored three straight in the second period.

“Just every game, (I) try to step up, you know? “Today we needed 20 guys and (I’m) just always trying to help,” Marchessault said. “I always have a mindset of trying to help my team win hockey games. And one night, it’s one guy, and one night it’s another one. And yeah, tonight it feels good.”

Despite being credited with only one assist and no shots on goal through 40 minutes, Eichel pushed the Golden Knights’ play, creating space that eventually led to Marchessault with the puck staring at open nets.

It was not a good night for Ekholm. In addition to the turnover which handed the Golden Knights the first goal, he took a terrible boarding penalty in the offensive zone later in the second period, which negated a pending Oilers power play and led to the fourth Golden Knights’ goal.

Skinner had been pulled in two of the three previous games, but coach Jay Woodcroft went back to his 24-year-old rookie goalie again. He was leaky. Marchessault buried a couple of rebounds, and Jack Campbell relieved Skinner at the start of the third period.

It was the third time in the series that Campbell relieved Skinner and the second consecutive game.

Woodcroft may be second-guessed all summer for not starting Campbell in Game 5 or 6.

After the wild ride at the outset, the game did settle down. With the home-ice advantage of the last change, Woodcroft kept his lines balanced. He separated McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Edmonton had the much better attack for the remainder of the first period, outshooting the VGK 15-7. and had five high-danger chances compared to the Golden Knights’ two.

The Golden Knights had only 17 shots through two periods, and five were by Marchessault. Woodcroft separated McDavid and Draisaitl until about five minutes remaining in the second period, and the dynamic duo remained united for the third period.

The Golden Knights played conservatively in the third period. Adin Hill made a pair of sparkling saves, one on McDavid and another on Ekholm, midway through the third period.

Hill was a deciding factor, as was Eichel’s defense. The Golden Knights will face the winner of Game 7 between the Seattle Kraken and Dallas Stars.

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