LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Golden Knights didn’t allow the Florida Panthers a chance to get into the game. While the shots were about even after the first period, there was little doubt which team was winning the battle and winning on the scoreboard.
The Golden Knights looked like a team on a mission as they decimated Florida 7-2 at T-Mobile Arena Monday. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-0. Game 3 is Thursday at Florida Live Arena.
Golden Knights goalie Adin Hill who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, added to his growing cult hero status. His ovation in pregame introductions overshadowed the other starters, and he made several sharp saves in the first period. He also punched Matthew Tkachuk.
Hill made more sparkling saves in the second period when he snatched a nifty wrister from Sasha Barkov. Later in the second period, he did the splits and took a goal away from defenseman Brandon Montour.
While Hill towered above the game, his counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t make it out of the second period. After Nick Howden (4) streaked past his coverage and beat Bobrovsky with a full-speed backhand deke, coach Paul Maurice had seen enough.
Out went Bobrovsky. In went Alex Lyon, his fist action since Game 3 of Round One against the Boston Bruins.
It was the Golden Knights night again.
The play was heavily tilted toward the Golden Knights in the first period. Original Misfit Jonathan Marchessault dished a couple of heavy hits on Florida defenders who attempted to check him, the second was a hard shoulder into heavy Florida defenseman Radko Gudas who hit the ice.
Marchessault (11) drew a cross-checking penalty on the play and promptly scored a power-play goal.
Later in the first period, Alec Martinez whistled a shot past Bobrovsky.
Early in the second period, the Golden Knights continued to make the goal lights get a workout worthy of the Vegas strip. Nic Roy showed soft hands and goal scorer’s timing as he dangled past one defender and whipped the puck past Bobrovsky. It was 3-0, and the home crowd was feeling every hit and shot as the momentum grew louder.
A few minutes after Roy’s nifty marker, Howden chased Bobrovsky, who had won 11 of 12 games prior to the Stanley Cup Final. However, in the Final, he’s allowed eight goals in just over four periods.
Late in the second period, referees asserted control as the play got chippier. Tkachuk lined up Golden Knights top center Jack Eichel for a clean open ice hit.
Without the shenanigans in the third period, the Golden Knights lowered the drawbridge of the Fortress and stormed the Panthers with a couple more goals. Jonathan Marchessault scored again early in the third period for a 5-1 lead.
Marchessault has 10 goals in his last nine games.
Midway through the third, the Golden Knights again transitioned from an offensive zone turnover. On a two-on-one, William Karlsson delivered a buttery soft pass for Michael Amadio
Florida scored in the opening seconds of the third period. Anton Lundell’s shot deflected off Martinez.
Matthew Tkachuk scored the Panthers’ second goal later in the third period. He almost scored a second goal moments later when he banked a shot off Hill, but Hill grabbed the puck as it dribbled to the goal line.
The final minutes were full of 10-minute misconducts as refs Steve Kozari and Chris Rooney issues five 10-minute misconducts. Tkachuk got two. Casey Fitzgerald and Anthony Duclair earned 10s. Two Vegas Golden Knights earned misconducts in the third, Keegan Kolesar and Ivan Barbashev.
Additional misconducts were added in the final seconds. Nick Cousins and Zach Whitecloud.
Brett Howden (5) scored the capper with two minutes remaining in the game.
Two wins away.